sur·​veil·​lance | \ sər-ˈvā-lən(t)s How to pronounce surveillance (audio) also -ˈvāl-yən(t)s How to pronounce surveillance (audio) or -ˈvā-ən(t)s How to pronounce surveillance (audio) \

Definition of surveillance

: close watch kept over someone or something (as by a detective) also : supervision — see also immune surveillance

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Examples of surveillance in a Sentence

government surveillance of suspected terrorists The bank robbery was recorded by surveillance video cameras.
Recent Examples on the Web Investigators also retrieved surveillance video from a nearby business and an apartment building. Carol Robinson |, al, "Police: Raven Swain ‘got what she deserved,’ murder-for-hire suspect messaged from prison," 10 Sep. 2020 Police say the shooting was captured on surveillance video. Steve Helling,, "Fla. Woman Is Fatally Shot Outside Her Job at Credit Union, and Husband Is Arrested," 9 Sep. 2020 With Goodell resisting calls to issue a longer suspension, TMZ on Sept. 8 released surveillance video from inside the hotel that showed Rice punching Palmer in the face. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "Does Roger Goodell have what it takes to lead NFL on racial injustice issues?," 9 Sep. 2020 Piles of mail were reportedly dumped in two locations in the city, including one incident in which a rental truck was caught on surveillance video dumping bags of unopened letters and packages in the parking lot of a medical spa. Luke Broadwater, New York Times, "Postal Service to Tap Republican Lobbyist to Quell Mounting Scrutiny," 9 Sep. 2020 An investigation was underway after surveillance video captured bags of mail being dumped in the parking lot of a Glendale spa, CBS Los Angeles reports. CBS News, "Probe launched after bags of mail dumped in 2 spots in L.A. area," 8 Sep. 2020 The incident was captured on surveillance video, and Deputy Neil Pizzo has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation. Carlos R. Munoz,, "Florida deputy on administrative leave after jail fight with Black teen," 7 Sep. 2020 As gun violence continues to increase in New York City, officials have released a new surveillance video of a recent shootout in the lobby of an apartment building in Brooklyn. Fox News, "NYC shootings surge as gunfight in Brooklyn apartment lobby caught on video," 7 Sep. 2020 Bags of mail were found discarded in a California parking lot, according to surveillance video. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, "'Huge pile': Surveillance video captures rental truck dumping bags of mail in California parking lot," 6 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surveillance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of surveillance

1802, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for surveillance

French, from surveiller to watch over, from sur- + veiller to watch, from Old French veillier, from Latin vigilare, from vigil watchful — more at vigil

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Time Traveler for surveillance

Time Traveler

The first known use of surveillance was in 1802

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Statistics for surveillance

Last Updated

14 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Surveillance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for surveillance


How to pronounce surveillance (audio) How to pronounce surveillance (audio) How to pronounce surveillance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of surveillance

: the act of carefully watching someone or something especially in order to prevent or detect a crime


sur·​veil·​lance | \ sər-ˈvā-lən(t)s also -ˈvāl-yən(t)s or -ˈvā-ən(t)s \

Medical Definition of surveillance

: close and continuous observation or testing serological surveillance — see immune surveillance

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