sur·​vey | \ sər-ˈvā How to pronounce survey (audio) , ˈsər-ˌvā\
surveyed; surveying

Definition of survey

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to examine as to condition, situation, or value : appraise
b : to query (someone) in order to collect data for the analysis of some aspect of a group or area
2 : to determine and delineate the form, extent, and position of (such as a tract of land) by taking linear and angular measurements and by applying the principles of geometry and trigonometry
3 : to view or consider comprehensively
4 : inspect, scrutinize he surveyed us in a lordly way— Alan Harrington

intransitive verb

: to make a survey


sur·​vey | \ ˈsər-ˌvā How to pronounce survey (audio) , sər-ˈvā\
plural surveys

Definition of survey (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of surveying: such as
a : a broad treatment of a subject
2 : something that is surveyed

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Examples of survey in a Sentence


A total of 250 city residents were surveyed about the project. 64 percent of the people surveyed said that the economy was doing well. The teacher surveyed the room. People were surveying the damage after the storm. Engineers surveyed the property to see what could be built on it.


The survey found some surprising tendencies among the population. We conducted an opinion survey on the issue and found that most people agree. a survey on American drinking habits Surveys of each department were conducted earlier this year. A survey of recent corporate layoffs reveals a new trend in business management. A new land survey changed the borders of their property.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The study surveyed 3,349 respondents ages 16 and older in 2018. Doreen Christensen,, "Driving while high: Marijuana users twice as likely to crash, AAA study finds," 19 June 2019 Third-base coach Gary Pettis surveyed the situation. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros begin road trip with loss to Reds," 18 June 2019 Researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania surveyed 93 veterans who received donations of medicinal cannabis from the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, based in Santa Cruz County. Nick Ibarra, The Mercury News, "Study finds California veterans use cannabis to replace other drugs," 18 June 2019 In the past year, the data aggregator FertilityIQ surveyed thirty thousand infertility patients. Anna Louie Sussman, The New Yorker, "The Case for Redefining Infertility," 18 June 2019 The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 1,000 Americans from June 8-11. Joshua Jamerson, WSJ, "Nearly Half of Democrats Back Impeachment Hearings Against Trump," 16 June 2019 Net World Sports surveyed 1,030 people across 21 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to ask who watched the 2015 Women's World Cup and who will be watching in 2019., "Survey Reveals 64% Increase in People Watching 2019 Women's World Cup Than 2015," 13 June 2019 Researchers in Sweden surveyed the owners of 58 Shetland sheepdogs and border collies about their personality traits and those of their dogs. Mandy Oaklander, Time, "Why Being Neurotic Might Be Good for Your Dog," 12 June 2019 Since then, the participants have been repeatedly surveyed; most recently, most of them were interviewed at the age of 55. The Economist, "The benefits of pre-schooling may extend for generations," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For one thing, Kilmer said, surveys can be inaccurate because people asked about their drug use don’t always tell the truth. ‘‘This study helps fill an important research gap,’’ Kilmer said in an e-mail. Gene Johnson,, "Gee whiz: Testing of sewage confirms rise in marijuana use," 20 June 2019 The facility was re-certified following an on-site survey conducted in June 2018, records show. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Hacienda HealthCare to lose Medicaid contract after report of maggots found on patient," 20 June 2019 The Wilmette Police Department this month launched a community survey aiming to help officials understand what crimes residents worry about most and what their views are on local law enforcement. Karen Ann Cullotta,, "Wilmette police launch community survey to better understand resident concerns," 20 June 2019 Sabina Sonneman of Redwood City signed 14 exemptions, the third-largest number in the news organization’s survey. Cat Ferguson, The Mercury News, "California’s vaccine battle: Here are the doctors behind Bay Area students’ medical exemptions," 20 June 2019 PCMag administers its annual survey by dispatching drivers to cruise the streets of the nation’s major cities, stopping at more than a dozen spots in each. Dwight Silverman, Houston Chronicle, "AT&T takes crown in’s 2019 mobile speed test," 20 June 2019 Weird patterns of sound were first noted during a summer field survey in 2010, Crance said. Dan Joling, Anchorage Daily News, "For first time, scientists record singing by rare North Pacific right whale," 19 June 2019 That's from a nationally representative health survey in 2016-17 and compares with a little over 3% in 2002-03. Lindsey Tanner, USA TODAY, "More pregnant women are using marijuana, study finds. Doctor says it's 'not worth the risk'," 19 June 2019 In one survey on decision-making for nine common medical conditions, fewer than half of the responding patients were able to answer more than one question correctly about their medical condition. Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What you need to know about shared decision-making and how it can lead to better health care," 19 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'survey.' 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 survey


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for survey


Middle English, from Anglo-French surveer, to look over, from sur- + veer to see — more at view

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Statistics for survey

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for survey

The first known use of survey was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for survey



English Language Learners Definition of survey

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to ask (many people) a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something
: to look at and examine all parts of (something)
: to measure and examine (an area of land)



English Language Learners Definition of survey (Entry 2 of 2)

: an activity in which many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something
: an act of studying something in order to make a judgment about it
: an act of measuring and examining an area of land


sur·​vey | \ sər-ˈvā How to pronounce survey (audio) \
surveyed; surveying

Kids Definition of survey

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to look over : examine The governor surveyed damage caused by the flood.
2 : to find out the size, shape, or boundaries of (as a piece of land)
3 : to gather information from : ask questions of We surveyed students to find out who was the most popular teacher.


sur·​vey | \ ˈsər-ˌvā How to pronounce survey (audio) \
plural surveys

Kids Definition of survey (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the action or an instance of gathering information or examining something
2 : something that is examined
3 : a history or description that covers a large subject briefly

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More from Merriam-Webster on survey

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with survey

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for survey

Spanish Central: Translation of survey

Nglish: Translation of survey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of survey for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about survey

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