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

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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

In a story published on Thursday, April 11, the Sun-Times included surveillance video that shows much of the interaction and appears to contradict what officers originally said had happened. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Chicago Police Are Facing a Lawsuit After Video Showed Officers Beating 16-Year-Old Dnigma Howard," 12 Apr. 2019 It was revealed earlier this year that Horowitz’s office was investigating allegations of government surveillance abuse tied to the start of the Russia probe. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Peter Strzok grilled for hours on Capitol Hill over any involvement in start of Russia probe," 2 Oct. 2018 The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is already investigating other matters related to the Russia investigation, including allegations of surveillance abuse and decisions made by top officials during the 2016 campaign. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Trump Backs Off Public Release of Documents in Russia Probe," 21 Sep. 2018 Nunes has won Trump's favor over the past year after raising multiple questions about surveillance abuse of Trump's campaign by the Department of Justice. Ashley Killough, CNN, "Trump tweets out support for McCarthy, Nunes in California primaries," 5 June 2018 In an unusual step, the U.S. Defense Department has offered to chip in with airport infrastructure that would help both civilian and military or surveillance planes land on the country’s coast. Jeremy Page, WSJ, "How the Pentagon Countered China’s Designs on Greenland," 10 Feb. 2019 The Maritime Rescue Service said Thursday that a surveillance plane found the dinghy in a stretch of the Mediterranean known as the Alboran Sea on Wednesday. Fox News, "The Latest: Macron criticizes Italy over migrant refusals," 6 Sep. 2018 The police department released surveillance footage on Monday showing an unidentified man dressed in a hooded sweatshirt taking the statue. ... Katie Honan, WSJ, "Vandalism of Roman Catholic Church’s Statue Called Hate Crime," 25 Feb. 2019 But according to a search warrant affidavit, surveillance footage from an Oconomowoc Walgreens appears to show the two of them entering the store at about 1:39 a.m. Sept. 5. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jury finds Dousman man guilty of homicide for role in girlfriend's fatal overdose," 13 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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near surveillance

Suruga Bay







Statistics for surveillance

Last Updated

24 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surveillance

The first known use of surveillance was in 1802

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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

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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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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