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

Verb 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. Noun 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 In the meantime, Mickols has had a chance to survey the damage. Matthias Gafni, San Francisco Chronicle, "There are only about 200 California condors in the wild. About 10% landed on one woman's deck," 5 May 2021 Cuomo visited Vill's home in Greece, N.Y., to survey flood damage. Jack Durschlag, Fox News, "Ninth woman steps forward to accuse NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo," 30 Mar. 2021 Norman and Walton Potter did a walk through of the cemetery this past week to survey the ice damage. Cathy Ingalls, oregonlive, "Salem Pioneer Cemetery suffers downed trees, destroyed tombstones in storm damage," 6 Mar. 2021 President Joe Biden is planning to survey damage with Gov. Governor Greg Abbott Friday. Mallika Kallingal, CNN, "Mother who lost her three children and her mom in a fire during Texas power outages talks about the tragic night," 26 Feb. 2021 Every 10 years, state engineers survey a stretch of road to see how fast people are driving. Rachel Bluth California Healthline, Los Angeles Times, "After deadly year on the roads, California and other states push for safety over speed," 19 Apr. 2021 The Navigate 360/Zogby Strategies survey lines up with a new report released in March 2020 by the United States Secret Service, that drilled down deeply into common denominators shared by school shooting plots that were averted. John Zogby, Forbes, "Majority Of US Teens Apprehensive About Returning To School In Fall 2021; Lack Confidence That Schools Are Prepared," 15 Apr. 2021 In one paper José Maria Barrero, Nick Bloom and Steven Davis, three economists, survey thousands of Americans and conclude that, after the pandemic, the average employee would like to work from home nearly half the time. The Economist, "Home working The rise of working from home," 5 Apr. 2021 The district will survey parents after two weeks to see if any more families will opt into sending their children to school part-time. oregonlive, "Students of color get short shrift," 3 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In March, a survey found around 10% of stimulus check funds—nearly $40 billion of the $380 billion in direct stimulus check deposits—may have been used to buy bitcoin and stocks, with stimulus check recipients found to prefer bitcoin. Billy Bambrough, Forbes, "Forget Bitcoin—Putting Stimulus Checks Into Dogecoin Would Have Made Over $500,000 Amid Crypto Price Mania," 7 May 2021 The survey also found that 73% of Asian American residents worry about being victims of physical violence or a hate crime. Priscella Vega, Los Angeles Times, "Californians are finally acknowledging Asians are ‘frequently’ discriminated against, survey shows," 7 May 2021 Progress has been equally uneven based on geography, the survey found. Collin Binkley, The Christian Science Monitor, "How far along is the US in reopening schools?," 6 May 2021 Progress has been equally uneven based on geography, the survey found., "Biden hits goal to reopen schools in first 100 days even as many students choose to learn remotely," 6 May 2021 Democrats seemed especially swayed by the promise of a payout, the survey found, while Republicans tended to be more tempted by relaxed safety standards, like the ability to go maskless in public. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "From Free Beer to $100 Payments, States Are Incentivizing COVID-19 Vaccination. Will It Work?," 5 May 2021 About 1 in 3 people said the stimulus aid would help support them for less than one month, the survey found. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "What's behind the push for a fourth stimulus check," 5 May 2021 The survey also found that 61% of respondents said the pandemic has brought their neighbors closer together. People Staff,, "Over 50 Percent of Americans Say They Invested in Renovating Their Outdoor Space This Past Year," 30 Apr. 2021 Red Lobster wants to cut the size of its downtown Orlando headquarters in half after a survey found that most of its staffers want to continue working from home. Austin Fuller,, "Red Lobster looks to shrink downtown Orlando office space as employees work from home," 30 Apr. 2021

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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Learn More about survey

Time Traveler for survey

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for survey

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Survey.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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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