[ soo-per-vahy-zuh-ree ]
/ ˌsu pərˈvaɪ zə ri /
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of, relating to, or having supervision.
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Origin of supervisory

First recorded in 1840–50; supervise + -ory1

OTHER WORDS FROM supervisory

non·su·per·vi·so·ry, adjectiveun·su·per·vi·so·ry, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does supervisory mean?

Supervisory is used to describe things that involve supervision, which is the act of overseeing, watching over, and providing direction for someone or something.

Supervisory is an adjective form of the verb supervise, and it’s especially used in the phrases supervisory role and supervisory capacity, both of which refer to positions that involve supervision (or positions for which supervision is a responsibility).

The word supervise often refers to supervising a project or people, parents supervising their children, or a manager or supervisor supervising their employees. Supervisory is most often used in the context of supervisors in the workplace or government agencies that conduct oversight.

Example: I’ve been asked to come on in a supervisory capacity to oversee the project.

Where does supervisory come from?

The first records of the word supervisory come from the 1800s. It’s formed from the verb supervise and the adjective-forming suffix -ory (which is used in the same way in the word advisory). Supervise 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 in a supervisory role literally watch from above—like a supervisor supervising their employees from an office above the factory floor. In most cases, though, supervisory is simply used to describe things involving close oversight 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. Supervisory activities can be done by individual supervisors, but the word is often associated with organizations or groups like committees and government agencies that are tasked with conducting supervision of another group or process.

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What are some other forms related to supervisory?

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


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

How is supervisory used in real life?

Supervise is most commonly used in the context of workplace supervisors and government agencies.



Try using supervisory!

Which of the following things should a person NOT do if they’re supposed to be in a supervisory position?

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

How to use supervisory in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for supervisory

/ (suːpəˈvaɪzərɪ) /

of, involving, or limited to supervisiona supervisory capacity
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