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

Definition of surveillance 

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Trump’s supporters in Congress have accused Strzok and Page of steering the Clinton probe away from criminal charges and pushing the FBI to aggressively investigate Trump advisers through electronic surveillance and confidential informants., "FBI agent Strzok feuds with GOP critics at hearing," 13 July 2018 Some Walmart workers have previously pushed back on the company's surveillance and efforts to regulate employee behavior. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "Walmart patents audio surveillance technology to record customers and employees," 13 July 2018 The minimum of effort to learn the inner workings of these animal factories — just driving by, for instance — is met with surveillance and security questions. Robert Abele,, "'Eating Animals' review: Natalie Portman, Jonathan Safran Foer want you to care about where your meat comes from," 12 July 2018 Investigators have released two surveillance images of the vehicle believed to be involved in the shooting. Alex Park, Houston Chronicle, "Woman shot while driving on Mason Road," 12 July 2018 The would-be burglar appears to be a light-skinned black or Hispanic man with a distinctive tattoo on his right arm, including stars and the number 5, a surveillance picture shows. Christine Dempsey,, "Owner Of Distinctive Tattoo Being Sought In Suffield Attempted Burglary," 11 July 2018 But the surveillance nevertheless highlights China’s deep interest in the inner workings of both friends and foes. Abby Seiff / Phnom Penh, Time, "Chinese State-Linked Hackers in Large Scale Operation to Monitor Cambodia's Upcoming Elections, Report Says," 11 July 2018 Police arrested Williams just two days after the shooting after extensively reviewing video surveillance from the crime scene., "Second Suspect Arrested In Relation To XXXTentacion's Murder," 11 July 2018 Such evidence includes video surveillance as well as emails and texts of persons connected to the property. Michael Mccann,, "Potential Legal Ramifications of the Disturbing Accusations Against LeSean McCoy," 11 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about surveillance

Share surveillance

Dictionary Entries near surveillance

Suruga Bay







Phrases Related to surveillance

electronic surveillance

keep under surveillance

Statistics for surveillance

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surveillance

The first known use of surveillance was in 1802

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for surveillance



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 immunological surveillance

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on surveillance

What made you want to look up surveillance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!