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[sen-suh s] /ˈsɛn səs/
noun, plural censuses.
an official enumeration of the population, with details as to age, sex, occupation, etc.
(in ancient Rome) the registration of citizens and their property, for purposes of taxation.
verb (used with object)
to take a census of (a country, city, etc.):
The entire nation is censused every 10 years.
Origin of census
1605-15; < Latin: a listing and property assessment of citizens, equivalent to cēns(ēre) to assess, register (citizens) in a census + -tus suffix of v. action; for -s- in place of -st- see censor
Related forms
[sen-shoo-uh l] /ˈsɛn ʃu əl/ (Show IPA),
precensus, noun
Can be confused
census, consensus (see usage note at consensus) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for census


noun (pl) -suses
an official periodic count of a population including such information as sex, age, occupation, etc
any offical count: a traffic census
(in ancient Rome) a registration of the population and a property evaluation for purposes of taxation
Derived Forms
censual, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from cēnsēre to assess
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for census

1610s, from Latin census "the enrollment of the names and property assessments of all Roman citizens," originally past participle of censere "to assess" (see censor (n.)). The modern census begins in the U.S., 1790., and Revolutionary France. Property for taxation was the primary purpose in Rome, hence Latin census also was used for "one's wealth, one's worth, wealthiness."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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