[ soo-per-vizh-uhn ]
/ ˌsu pərˈvɪʒ ən /
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the act or function of supervising; superintendence.
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Origin of supervision

1615–25; <Medieval Latin supervīsiōn- (stem of supervīsiō) oversight, equivalent to super-super- + vīsiōn-vision

OTHER WORDS FROM supervision

non·su·per·vi·sion, nounpre·su·per·vi·sion, nounpro·su·per·vi·sion, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does supervision mean?

Supervision is the act of overseeing or watching over someone or something.

Supervision is the noun form of the verb supervise, meaning to oversee or watch over. You can supervise a project, but most of the time supervision means supervising people, especially parents supervising their children or a manager or supervisor supervising their employees.

Someone or something 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.

Example: All children in this building must be under adult supervision.

Where does supervision come from?

Supervision comes from the Medieval Latin supervīsiōn-, meaning “oversight.” In fact, the word supervision quite literally means the same thing as oversight—the prefix super- means “over” or “above,” and vision is another word for sight.

Sometimes, people performing supervision literally watch from above—like a supervisor supervising their employees from an office above the factory floor. In most cases, though, supervision simply means overseeing closely to make sure something is proceeding as planned or that someone is doing what they should be. Some employees require more supervision than others.

Young children almost always require some level of supervision. 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. For example, a museum might have a sign that says Adult supervision required. The phrase is sometimes applied humorously to situations in which adults themselves are the ones who need supervision, typically because they’re doing things that are illogical or unsafe.

Supervision should not be confused with super vision. (Superman has super vision, but Batman thinks Superman needs supervision.)

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to supervision?

  • supervise (verb)
  • nonsupervision (noun)
  • presupervision (noun)
  • prosupervision (adjective)

What are some synonyms for supervision?

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

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


How is supervision used in real life?

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



Try using supervision!

Which of the following things should a person NOT do if they’re supposed to be performing supervision?

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

How to use supervision in a sentence