sur·​vey | \ sər-ˈvā , 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 , 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

To ensure the shades were true to all skin tones, the brand surveyed people at their stores, reviewed customer feedback, tested with makeup artists, and invited members of their community to be shade-matched. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Exclusive: Glossier Just Expanded Their Shade Range, and It's a Huge Deal," 29 Jan. 2019 The Varieties of Democracy project, which has been surveying experts on the state of global democracies since 1900, gave the US political system a 48 on a 1-to-100 scale in 1945 and a 59 in 1965. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The political tribalism of Andrew Sullivan," 11 Dec. 2018 After the arrival at Bennu today, OSIRIS-REx will spend the next year surveying the asteroid and trying to find a good location to collect its samples. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Watch NASA's OSIRIS-REx Rendezvous With an Asteroid," 3 Dec. 2018 But the 743 teens Pew surveyed say it’s actually, well, good. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A looming strike over Project Dragonfly is putting new pressure on Google," 30 Nov. 2018 In what appears to be a secluded mountain lodge, Chopra seems to be kicking back and surveying the gorgeous surroundings, alongside her future-husband of course: Chopra and Jonas recently escaped on vacation to Mexico. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Are on a Romantic and Secluded Mountain Getaway," 3 Sep. 2018 With the prospect of Amazon and UPS drones dropping packages at your door and farmers surveying their fields from above, federal aviation officials are looking to experiment with looser airspace regulations. Allison Kite, kansascity, "Overland Park company to experiment with drones in federal pilot," 12 July 2018 Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber, has been surveying chamber members about the tariffs. Deon Roberts, Jim Morrill And Hannah Lang, charlotteobserver, "From breweries to the farm, Trump tariff war produces winners and losers in Charlotte," 12 July 2018 To see how burnout and/or workplace safety might impact medical errors, the team surveyed physicians engaged in active clinical practice in 2014. Alan Mozes, CBS News, "Doctor burnout behind many medical errors, study finds," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For over 10 years, Product of the Year has counted the votes of 40,000 shoppers in a nation-wide shopping survey, powered by research firm Kantar. Rachel Jacoby, Woman's Day, "40,000 People Swear By These 36 Home Products," 8 Feb. 2019 Lazard surveys energy buildouts that occurred in the previous year and divides the estimated cost of building and operating the plant, including fuel cost estimates, by the amount of energy a particular plant is expected to produce in its lifetime. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "New year, same story: Cost of wind and solar fall below cost of coal and gas," 12 Nov. 2018 Getty Condé Nast Traveler readers ranked the 30 best islands in the world outside the U.S. in the 2018 Readers' Choice Awards survey, from far-flung stunners in Southeast Asia to volcanic outcrops in the Mediterranean. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Islands in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Wylie added that the data was obtained from an app developed by an academic that vacuumed up data from Facebook users who agreed to fill out a survey, as well as their friends and contacts — a process of which most were unaware. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Lawmakers demand answers from Facebook after claim that analytics firm snatched user data for Trump campaign," 2 Oct. 2018 Every company takes these surveys, and then there’s the detailed comments at the end, and those are the best, and Rich had printed them. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Glassdoor CEO Robert Hohman explains why reviews with sexual harassment allegations don’t get removed," 15 Aug. 2018 Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National); Total Nonfarm Employment, Seasonally Adjusted. Brooks Jackson,, "Trump's Numbers (Second Quarterly Update) | FactCheck," 11 July 2018 In 2014, 771 people filled out the survey, all of whom planned a trip of at least five days along the trail—a pretty reasonable sample from the total of roughly 3,500 permits issued that year. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Here's What It Takes to Hike the John Muir Trail," 11 July 2018 The survey, conducted July 5-8, found 56 percent to 44 percent wanted a Nelson vote for whoever Trump picked. Anthony Man,, "Republicans try to make Supreme Court fight unpleasant for Bill Nelson," 11 July 2018

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

16 Feb 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 \
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 \
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

Comments on survey

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excited commotion or publicity

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