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

The joint patrol follows earlier aerial surveillance flights and the establishment of a joint operations center. Ryan Browne, Jamie Crawford And Bianca Britton, CNN, "US and Turkish troops conduct first joint ground patrol of Syrian 'safe zone'," 8 Sep. 2019 This is the second time video surveillance was critical in a charge against Dulos. Dave Altimari,, "Video Cameras are everywhere — and investigators are using them extensively in the case they are building against Fotis Dulos," 8 Sep. 2019 Protesters want surveillance camera recordings of the raid to be released to determine the truth. Kin Cheung,, "Protests flare in Hong Kong despite bill’s withdrawal," 6 Sep. 2019 An anti-submarine satellite, Guanlan will significantly increase China's oceanic surveillance abilities with the ability to fire a high-energy pulse on submarines as far down as 1,640 feet. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "China's New Crystals Could Finally Make Laser Weapons a Thing," 4 Sep. 2019 The country seems primarily to be enhancing its domestic surveillance with facial-recognition and other identifying technologies, although U.S.experts say that technology could be quickly put to military use. The Atlantic, "Coming Soon to a Battlefield: Robots That Can Kill," 3 Sep. 2019 Its contracts with Goldman protect you from some bank surveillance capitalism. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "The spy in your wallet: Credit cards have a privacy problem," 31 Aug. 2019 Such energy-saving kinematics could help improve the efficiency of miniature unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) used for surveillance. Shweta Narayan, Smithsonian, "How Engineers of New Energy Technology Are Taking Cues From Nature," 31 Aug. 2019 That money would be better spent on public-health systems and surveillance to try to catch outbreaks earlier, says Olga Jonas, a fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute who has previously worked on risk-financing at the World Bank. The Economist, "The World Bank’s pandemic bonds are not paying out for Ebola," 29 Aug. 2019

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

11 Sep 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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