See more synonyms for surveying on
  1. the science or scientific method of making surveys of land.
  2. the occupation of one who makes land surveys.
  3. the act of one who surveys: The surveying required nearly two days.

Origin of surveying

1425–75; late Middle English: act of examining closely; see survey, -ing1


[verb ser-vey; noun sur-vey, ser-vey]
verb (used with object)
  1. to take a general or comprehensive view of or appraise, as a situation, area of study, etc.
  2. to view in detail, especially to inspect, examine, or appraise formally or officially in order to ascertain condition, value, etc.
  3. to conduct a survey of or among: to survey TV viewers.
  4. to determine the exact form, boundaries, position, extent, etc., of (a tract of land, section of a country, etc.) by linear and angular measurements and the application of the principles of geometry and trigonometry.
verb (used without object)
  1. to survey land; practice surveying.
noun, plural sur·veys.
  1. an act or instance of surveying or of taking a comprehensive view of something: The course is a survey of Italian painting.
  2. a formal or official examination of the particulars of something, made in order to ascertain condition, character, etc.
  3. a statement or description embodying the result of this: They presented their survey to the board of directors.
  4. a sampling, or partial collection, of facts, figures, or opinions taken and used to approximate or indicate what a complete collection and analysis might reveal: The survey showed the percentage of the population that planned to vote.
  5. the act of determining the exact form, boundaries, position, etc., as of a tract of land or section of a country, by linear measurements, angular measurements, etc.
  6. the plan or description resulting from such an operation.
  7. an agency for making determinations: U.S. Geological Survey.

Origin of survey

1425–75; late Middle English surveien (v.) < Anglo-French surveier, Middle French surv(e)ier, surveoir to oversee, equivalent to sur- sur-1 + v(e)ier < Latin vidēre to see
Related formssur·vey·a·ble, adjectivepre·sur·vey, nounpre·sur·vey, verb (used with object)self-sur·vey, nounself-sur·veyed, adjectiveun·sur·vey·a·ble, adjectiveun·sur·veyed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for surveying

Contemporary Examples of surveying

Historical Examples of surveying

  • I can afford to give Jim more than he can make at surveying.

  • "They haven't found us yet," said Morgan, surveying the looped end of the rope ladder.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Surveying this in the glass, however, he became perceptibly reconciled.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • “They are there,” said I, surveying from my vantage-ground the thinning ranks.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • Von Francius turned, surveying me from head to foot, with a smile.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

British Dictionary definitions for surveying


  1. the study or practice of measuring altitudes, angles, and distances on the land surface so that they can be accurately plotted on a map
  2. the setting out on the ground of the positions of proposed construction or engineering works


verb (sɜːˈveɪ, ˈsɜːveɪ)
  1. (tr) to view or consider in a comprehensive or general wayto survey the situation
  2. (tr) to examine carefully, as or as if to appraise valueto survey oneself in a mirror
  3. to plot a detailed map of (an area of land) by measuring or calculating distances and height
  4. British to inspect a building to determine its condition and value
  5. to examine a vessel thoroughly in order to determine its seaworthiness
  6. (tr) to run a statistical survey on (incomes, opinions, etc)
noun (ˈsɜːveɪ)
  1. a comprehensive or general viewa survey of English literature
  2. a critical, detailed, and formal inspectiona survey of the nation's hospitals
  3. British an inspection of a building to determine its condition and value
  4. a report incorporating the results of such an inspection
    1. a body of surveyors
    2. an area surveyed
  5. statistics a random sample
Derived Formssurveyable, adjective

Word Origin for survey

C15: from French surveoir, from sur- 1 + veoir to see, from Latin vidēre
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

Word Origin and History for surveying



late 14c. "to consider, contemplate" (implied in surveyance), from Old French surveeir, from Medieval Latin supervidere "oversee" (see supervise). Meaning "examine the condition of" is from mid-15c. That of "to take linear measurements of a tract of ground" is recorded from 1540s. Related: Surveyed; surveying.



late 15c., survei, "oversight, supervision," from survey (v.). The meaning "act of viewing in detail" is from 1540s. Meaning "systematic collection of data on opinions, etc." is attested from 1927.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper