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 four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.47 billion. Josh Funk, The Seattle Times, "TD Ameritrade doubles its fiscal 1Q profit," 22 Jan. 2019 Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected 225,000 new claims last week. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Jobless Claims Declined in Mid-March," 21 Mar. 2019 Previous SlideNext Slide From caves to Facebook and Twitter In August 2013, Professor Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand hired Pedro Boshoff to survey caves in the Cradle of Humankind, mapping which had fossil deposits. Lydia Pyne, Ars Technica, "Rising Star found a new species—now it wants to find a new way for paleoanthropology," 20 Dec. 2018 Similarly, David Snyder, the executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said that the case will likely turn on the question of whether Vizaline is or is not engaged in surveying under current state law. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "If an algorithm draws lines on a map, is that the same as land surveying?," 13 July 2018 The team moves later that day from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. to Briscoe Park, off Lenora Church Road, to continue the conversation about Snellville’s future, surveying park-goers on their preferences for the city’s future growth. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Citizens invited to share ideas at two upcoming Snellville events," 7 July 2018 Cruz holds 41 percent of the vote while O'Rourke holds 36 percent, a U.S. Senate trial ballot that surveyed 1,200 registered voters from June 8 to June 17 found. Fernando Ramirez, Houston Chronicle, "Beto O'Rourke is within 5 points of Ted Cruz in Senate race, poll finds," 25 June 2018 There’s a peculiar sort of satisfaction that comes with surveying the touchable results of one’s labors. Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dirt under your fingernails is a mental health remedy," 22 June 2018 In a note to clients, analyst John Blackledge said Cowen surveyed 2,500 users in the U.S. and found that Snap users spent an average of 33 minutes per day on the app during the second quarter. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "Snap Shares Tumble After Analyst Reports Declining User Engagement Time," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Ultimately, fashion eccentrics and relaxed streetwear savants coexisted beautifully in our survey of the streets in Tokyo. Vogue, "At Tokyo Fashion Week, Goths, Punks, and Skaters Ruled the Streets," 25 Mar. 2019 In their decadal surveys to set priorities, planetary scientists have put two missions—a Mars sample return and a Europa orbiter—at the top of their priority list. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "A congressman’s loss clouds the future of two demanding missions to Europa," 3 Dec. 2018 If employees were honest on their surveys, more than 3,000 of them will be gone by this time next year. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook has a growing morale problem," 15 Nov. 2018 More than half of parents with children under the age of 18 falsely believe that the flu shot can cause the flu, a national survey conducted by Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital revealed this week. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "No, The Flu Shot Won't Give You the Flu — But Here’s Why You Might Feel Sick Afterwards," 19 Oct. 2018 While poaching isn't unheard of in Botswana, until recently most cases had been found along its border with Namibia, according to past surveys conducted by Elephants Without Borders. Sebastian Modak, Condé Nast Traveler, "Dozens of Killed Elephants Found Near Botswana's Okavango Delta," 4 Sep. 2018 But for all the money San Francisco is throwing at the complex issue, the number of people living on the streets appears to be staying the same, according to data from a homeless count survey conducted last year citywide. Greg Norman, Fox News, "San Francisco continues to spend big in fight against homelessness -- but is it working?," 19 July 2018 Despite being imprisoned for the last three months, Lula continues to lead opinion polls in October’s presidential election, with 30% of the vote in a June survey conducted by the polling company Datafolha. Jill Langlois,, "Brazil's judges duel over whether to release former President Lula from prison," 9 July 2018 Consumer confidence among Floridians already appears to be taking a hit, according to the most recent survey conducted by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. David Lyons,, "Nervous South Florida industries await tariff war fallout," 6 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

13 Apr 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

Comments on survey

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


likely to have or produce good results

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