sur·​veil·​lance | \ sər-ˈvā-lən(t)s How to pronounce surveillance (audio) also -ˈvāl-yən(t)s How to pronounce surveillance (audio) 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 — see also immune surveillance

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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 Fiscal 2003 had 810 tests under general surveillance. Matt Wyatt, San Antonio Express-News, 7 Oct. 2021 Secondly, Palantir remains highly dependent on government contracts (about 55% of total Revenue) – particularly in areas related to surveillance and national security – causing transparency and perception issues. Trefis Team, Forbes, 7 Oct. 2021 As a result, rival intelligence agencies had become more adept with new technologies like facial recognition, artificial intelligence and surveillance technology, while also learning how to break CIA intelligence networks within their countries. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, 7 Oct. 2021 The department bought the devices as part of a broader expansion of its surveillance program, which at the time boasted a network of more than 700 cameras throughout the city. Rebecca Lurye,, 6 Oct. 2021 Despite its limitations, the method highlights how imaging and machine learning can transform imperceptible indicators into surveillance. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, 6 Oct. 2021 Congress should abolish the FISA court and return authority to the law enforcement leaders making surveillance decisions. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 5 Oct. 2021 The feds claim video surveillance shows Williams pulling up to the hotel with Brown, described as his road manger, riding shotgun and Darosa behind the wheel of a black Mercedes Maybach. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 5 Oct. 2021 The United States has done so over issues like surveillance, forced labor and the crackdown on democracy advocates in Hong Kong. New York Times, 4 Oct. 2021

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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Time Traveler for surveillance

Time Traveler

The first known use of surveillance was in 1802

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Statistics for surveillance

Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Surveillance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

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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 immune surveillance

More from Merriam-Webster on surveillance

Nglish: Translation of surveillance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surveillance for Arabic Speakers


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