[ soo-per-vahyz ]
/ ˈsu pərˌvaɪz /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: supervise / supervised / supervising on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), su·per·vised, su·per·vis·ing.

to oversee (a process, work, workers, etc.) during execution or performance; superintend; have the oversight and direction of.



Set some time apart to test your bracket symbol knowledge, and see if you can keep your parentheses, squares, curlies, and angles all straight!
Question 1 of 7
Let’s start with some etymology: What are the origins of the typographical word “bracket”?

Origin of supervise

1580–90; <Medieval Latin supervīsus (past participle of supervidēre to oversee), equivalent to super-super- + vid-, stem of vidēre to see + -tus past participle suffix, with dt>s;see vision, wit2


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does supervise mean?

Supervise means to oversee, watch over, and provide direction for someone or something.

You can supervise a project or process as it’s happening, but most of the time the word refers to supervising people, especially parents supervising their children or a manager or supervisor supervising their employees.

The noun form of supervise is supervision. Someone being supervised is said to be under supervision. When it’s used in the context of adults watching children, the word often appears in the phrases parental supervision and adult supervision. Children or other people who can’t be left alone are said to need constant supervision. When they are left alone, they’re said to be unsupervised.

The adjective form supervisory describes things that involve supervision, such as in the phrases supervisory role and supervisory capacity. 

Example: The key to supervising your employees effectively is giving them enough space to do their jobs, instead of constantly standing over their shoulders.

Where does supervise come from?

The first records of the word supervise come from the 1500s. It comes from the Medieval Latin supervidēre, meaning “to oversee.” In fact, the word supervise quite literally means the same thing as oversee—the prefix super- means “over” or “above,” and the Latin verb vidēre means “to see” (the English word vision is based on the same root).

Sometimes, people who supervise literally watch from above—like a supervisor supervising their employees from an office above the factory floor. In most cases, though, supervise simply refers to overseeing closely to make sure something is proceeding as planned or that someone is doing what they should be, such as a project and the people working on it. Some employees need to be supervised more than others. The same thing goes for children, but very young children almost always need to be supervised in some way. The phrases adult supervision and parental supervision often refer to the requirement for children to be watched by a parent or other adult, especially in public spaces.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to supervise?

What are some synonyms for supervise?

What are some words that share a root or word element with supervise


What are some words that often get used in discussing supervise?


How is supervise used in real life?

Supervise is most commonly used in the context of parenting, childcare, and the workplace.



Try using supervise!

Which of the following things should a person NOT do if they’re supposed to be supervising someone or something?

A. watch over
B. provide guidance
C. keep an eye on things
D. ignore the situation

Example sentences from the Web for supervise

British Dictionary definitions for supervise

/ (ˈsuːpəˌvaɪz) /

verb (tr)

to direct or oversee the performance or operation of
to watch over so as to maintain order, etc

Derived forms of supervise

supervision (ˌsuːpəˈvɪʒən), noun

Word Origin for supervise

C16: from Medieval Latin supervidēre, from Latin super- + vidēre to see
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
Book Your Online Tutor Now