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[sam-pling, sahm-] /ˈsæm plɪŋ, ˈsɑm-/
the act or process of selecting a sample for testing, analyzing, etc.
the sample so selected.
Origin of sampling
First recorded in 1630-40; sample + -ing1


[sam-puh l, sahm-] /ˈsæm pəl, ˈsɑm-/
a small part of anything or one of a number, intended to show the quality, style, or nature of the whole; specimen.
Statistics. a subset of a population:
to study a sample of the total population.
a sound of short duration, as a musical tone or a drumbeat, digitally stored in a synthesizer for playback.
serving as a specimen:
a sample piece of cloth.
verb (used with object), sampled, sampling.
to take a sample or samples of; test or judge by a sample.
First recorded in 1250-1300; Middle English word from Old French word essample. See example
Related forms
intersample, noun, adjective, verb (used with object), intersampled, intersampling.
missample, verb, missampled, missampling.
resample, verb (used with object), resampled, resampling.
Synonym Study
1. See example. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sampling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had his tin stew-pan on the fire and was bending over it, sampling the contents.

    The Wrong Woman

    Charles D. Stewart
  • Dog and herder sniffed the evening air, sampling the new odor.

    The Wrong Woman

    Charles D. Stewart
  • The sampling and the cabin and the tunnel count for assessment work.

    The Man from the Bitter Roots

    Caroline Lockhart
  • To understand what this means, it is useful to contrast quotation and sampling.

  • He walked back to the anteroom and looked at the sampling chamber.

    The Bramble Bush Gordon Randall Garrett
British Dictionary definitions for sampling


the process of selecting a random sample
a variant of sample (sense 2)
the process of taking a short extract from (a record) and mixing it into a different backing track
a process in which a continuous electrical signal is approximately represented by a series of discrete values, usually regularly spaced


  1. a small part of anything, intended as representative of the whole; specimen
  2. (as modifier): a sample bottle
(statistics) Also called sampling
  1. a set of individuals or items selected from a population for analysis to yield estimates of, or to test hypotheses about, parameters of the whole population. A biased sample is one in which the items selected share some property which influences their distribution, while a random sample is devised to avoid any such interference so that its distribution is affected only by, and so can be held to represent, that of the whole population See also matched sample
  2. (as modifier): sample distribution
(transitive) to take a sample or samples of
  1. to take a short extract from (one record) and mix it into a different backing track
  2. to record (a sound) and feed it into a computerized synthesizer so that it can be reproduced at any pitch
Word Origin
C13: from Old French essample, from Latin exemplumexample
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 sampling



c.1300, "something which confirms a proposition or statement," from Anglo-French saumple, a shortening of Old French essample, from Latin exemplum "a sample" (see example). Meaning "small quantity (of something) from which the general quality (of the whole) may be inferred" (usually in a commercial sense) is recorded from early 15c.; sense of "specimen for scientific sampling" is from 1878. As an adjective from 1820.



"to test by taking a sample," 1767, from sample (n.). Earlier "to be a match for" (1590s). Related: Sampled; sampling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sampling in Culture

sample definition

In statistics, a group drawn from a larger population and used to estimate the characteristics of the whole population.

Note: Opinion polls use small groups of people, often selected at random, as a sample of the opinions of the general public.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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