Definition of survey in English:



  • 1Look closely at or examine (someone or something)

    ‘her green eyes surveyed him coolly’
    ‘I surveyed the options’
    • ‘I push open the green doors and survey the social dynamic like I did on the bus the first day of school.’
    • ‘She leapt to her feet once again and quickly surveyed the scene before her.’
    • ‘His eyes were worried as he helped her stand up, surveying her closely for injury.’
    • ‘Needing a bigger site but intent on staying in the neighbourhood, the Boykiws surveyed the options.’
    • ‘My eyes surveyed the crowd, finally settling on Armando.’
    • ‘I climbed the sand dunes and surveyed the surroundings: green hills behind me, the ocean in front of me, clear blue skies all round.’
    • ‘My heart was in my throat as I surveyed what he held in his hand.’
    • ‘She looked around, carefully surveying the surroundings.’
    • ‘She wore a long, undecorated white robe and had bright green eyes that surveyed the entire crowd.’
    • ‘With this in mind, I surveyed the people around me and considered if it was truly possible that fifty strangers could share each other's company for just a few days and have such an impact on each other's lives.’
    • ‘His vision was partially returned, and he quickly surveyed the surroundings.’
    • ‘I looked him over once more and surveyed his eyes very closely.’
    • ‘To his right stood Xiao, also surveying her surroundings with interest.’
    • ‘I brushed a strand of ginger hair off my forehead and surveyed my reflection more closely.’
    • ‘Something in the two larger puppies caught his eye and he picked one of them up, surveying it closely.’
    • ‘Several miles away, in a small cottage, a woman surveyed the devastation surrounding her.’
    • ‘Nathan stood at the entrance to the room, calmly surveying the scene in front of him.’
    • ‘His eyes moved around him to survey what he had missed in the darkness.’
    • ‘The wrinkles deepened in his creased face as he surveyed it closely.’
    • ‘She surveyed me closely through her fine spectacles.’
    look at, look over, take a look at, observe, view, contemplate, regard, see, gaze at, stare at, eye, get a bird's-eye view of
    View synonyms
  • 2Examine and record the area and features of (an area of land) so as to construct a map, plan, or description.

    ‘he surveyed the coasts of New Zealand’
    • ‘Bad weather prevented these plans and he surveyed the Cocos-Keeling Islands instead.’
    • ‘This year, the team surveyed a larger area with tunicate coverage.’
    • ‘He had surveyed all the surrounding area, using council plans and photos taken by Staten.’
    • ‘Another protected area that should be surveyed for islerorum is the Reserva Ecologica Serra das Araras in western Mato Grosso, Brazil.’
    • ‘In Taiwan, there are four areas which will be surveyed and examined this year by the WHO.’
    • ‘The survey consisted of a two-page, front to back, fifteen item questionnaire.’
    • ‘Over the years since then, we have spent billions mapping, measuring and surveying Antarctica from land, sea and space.’
    • ‘She and two scientist friends then took her lists and travelled down the coast surveying the inter-tidal zones and counting all the numbers of these kinds of creatures.’
    • ‘However, a small population of approximately 40 individuals exists upstream of the area that is regularly surveyed.’
    • ‘Some adjacent areas were also surveyed, although less intensively.’
    • ‘That is less than half of the sheep estimated to have been there when the area was last surveyed in 1973 by Canadian biologist Ronald Petocz.’
    • ‘This equates to surveying an area the size of Plymouth while being able to pick out isolated features the size of a dustbin.’
    • ‘Kenya law requires that all land parcels should be surveyed and registered.’
    • ‘Even with this global effort, only 40 percent of the world's oceans have been surveyed to hydrographic standards.’
    • ‘More than 750 miles of the southern part of the West Coast route has to be surveyed to record design positions.’
    • ‘The one female was not observed until she began behaving in a territorial manner again, even though the surrounding area had been intensively surveyed twice.’
    • ‘The first settlers arrived in the district around 1880 after the land had been surveyed by W.H.Skinner.’
    • ‘This area was last surveyed in 1949, before most of the modern sonar technology was available.’
    • ‘Buford surveyed the area for its geographical importance for the coming battle.’
    • ‘The secondary observer records the species detected by the primary observer but also surveys the area.’
    • ‘This area of London was surveyed again in 1991 as part of the UK census of population.’
    1. 2.1British Examine and report on the condition of (a building), especially for a prospective buyer.
      ‘the cottage didn't look unsafe, but he had it surveyed’
      • ‘The Bench was told that all the 87 buildings surveyed had shown violations and that the BMP had decided to take up a survey of the entire locality.’
      • ‘The Elizabethan-style building has been surveyed by a historic buildings expert, and a schedule of work has been drawn up to restore it to its former glory.’
      • ‘Mr Fagan is advising owners and occupiers of similar properties that their buildings should be regularly surveyed and repaired.’
      • ‘Rohcon surveyed the building a fortnight ago and rejected all claims of leaks and structural defects.’
      • ‘We aim to make sure that the cottage is in tip-top condition for any prospective purchasers having it surveyed.’
      • ‘The landmark JK O'Connor building, one of the oldest in Castleisland, was surveyed by engineers and cordoned off yesterday.’
      make a survey of, value, carry out a valuation of, estimate the value of
      View synonyms
  • 3Investigate the opinions or experience of (a group of people) by asking them questions.

    ‘95 per cent of patients surveyed were satisfied with the health service’
    • ‘More than one-third of the companies surveyed failed to hold regular board meetings.’
    • ‘They surveyed 49 patients who consumed a therapeutic diet and who received diet counselling during their hospital stay.’
    • ‘They found that 25% of plastic surgery patients surveyed said their partners had also had plastic surgery.’
    • ‘Both groups were surveyed at baseline (prior to starting their S-L experience) and at the completion of their experience.’
    • ‘The biggest question those surveyed said required an answer was: ‘Why is there so much suffering in the world?’’
    • ‘The researchers surveyed more than 6,000 American soldiers in the months before and after combat in the two countries.’
    • ‘Voters across the nation were surveyed to determine attitudes on issues up for debate.’
    • ‘Surprisingly, while students get less time with their teachers, the survey suggests that they're more satisfied than students surveyed 10 years earlier.’
    • ‘In 2003, researchers surveyed approximately 13,000 high school students about the disease.’
    • ‘In fact, 64 percent of the patients surveyed were initially diagnosed by their primary-care doctor.’
    • ‘Sixty-two percent of all surveyed said they experienced at least four traumatic events in the past 10 years.’
    • ‘The 66 physicians who were surveyed had referred patients to the study.’
    • ‘Students in a large, urban northwest school district were recruited and then surveyed annually for seven years.’
    • ‘Each clinic surveyed 20 patients who were selected randomly.’
    • ‘The IAS study showed that 56 percent of the organizations surveyed experienced failed international assignments.’
    • ‘The lists were drawn on the basis of personal experience among 200 people surveyed.’
    • ‘In this study, we surveyed the clinicians who are the recipients of these interpretations.’
    • ‘All of the patients surveyed said they were happy with the availability of appointments.’
    • ‘One study surveyed 32 patients dying of cancer and stroke.’
    • ‘One student of the 556 surveyed got all 34 questions right.’
    1. 3.1Investigate (behaviour or opinions) by questioning a group of people.
      ‘the investigator surveyed the attitudes and beliefs held by residents’
      • ‘A new poll surveying religious opinions across different countries has some interesting results.’
      • ‘In 2000 it surveyed opinion using the identical question, resulting in support of 56 percent.’
      • ‘The poll surveyed the opinions of 3,667 people, aged 18 years and older.’
      • ‘The sample size was limited, the range of treatments surveyed perhaps too wide for the small numbers involved.’
      • ‘Researchers have for years been surveying the public's attitudes toward advertising and have noticed no significant change in beliefs about advertising.’
      interview, question, canvass, poll, cross-examine, investigate, research, study, probe, sample
      View synonyms


  • 1A general view, examination, or description of someone or something.

    ‘the author provides a survey of the relevant literature’
    • ‘There are good case studies and general surveys of terrorists and terrorist organizations, but few that try to determine whether more democracy leads to less terrorism.’
    • ‘This volume not only provides a comprehensive survey of recent work on existential meaning but is likely to have a broader appeal as well.’
    • ‘The best a book like this can do is to bring readers a general survey of hoaxes, their nature and perpetrators, and offer some tips on how to avoid being hoaxed.’
    • ‘The former is a comprehensive view or survey and the latter refers to places where two forms of a language are spoken.’
    • ‘In general, the genre-by-genre surveys are extremely informative.’
    • ‘This volume provides an introductory survey of the last generation of scholarship on the corpus of eddic mythological poetry.’
    • ‘First, however, I shall present a general survey of the evidence.’
    • ‘Its title and introduction lead readers to expect a general survey of global environmental history.’
    study, consideration, review, overview
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An investigation of the opinions or experience of a group of people, based on a series of questions.
      ‘a survey conducted by Gardening Which?’
      • ‘This is based on a survey conducted in Sweden, which is the only EU country where smokeless tobacco is allowed.’
      • ‘In a national telephone survey of 1,000 US adults, 105 participants reported that they suffer from severe headaches.’
      • ‘A survey conducted last year identified a huge need for local housing.’
      • ‘Stations were also encouraged to install secure fencing, better lighting and clearer signs, and to conduct opinion surveys among passengers.’
      • ‘The second part of the survey examines views on the police, the judicial process and politics.’
      • ‘No steps were initiated to conduct surveys, investigations and research to identify the cause for occurrence of various types of disabilities with a view to their prevention and early detection.’
      • ‘However, she also conducted a number of questionnaire surveys of members.’
      • ‘At the baseline survey participants completed a detailed health and lifestyle questionnaire and participated in a health examination.’
      • ‘A recent nationwide FSA survey showed one in five people used takeaways two or three times a week.’
      • ‘Government figures on poverty are based on sample surveys conducted at discrete points of time.’
      • ‘The outcome is a slap in the face for thousands of people who took part in a household survey asking for their views only to find them summarily disregarded.’
      • ‘More than 400 members participated in a member satisfaction survey in late May of 2001.’
      • ‘The two groups commissioned a survey which found that 63 percent of respondents in Barcelona wanted an end to bullfighting.’
      • ‘The site will carry out online price surveys and will also lead campaigns for lower prices.’
      • ‘The results of a recent survey indicate that few general dentists see children who are younger than three years.’
      • ‘These findings emerge from a national survey of public opinion conducted by the HSRC during September 2000.’
      • ‘A nationwide survey has found that parents want their children taught at home instead of at school.’
      • ‘In a new nationwide survey commissioned by Columbia Law School, most Americans said no.’
      • ‘Opinion surveys naturally produce optimistic estimates, as do extrapolations of recent market returns.’
      • ‘An informal survey reveals the youth at various stages of their academic and work careers.’
      poll, review, investigation, enquiry, study, probe, questionnaire, opinion poll, sampling, census, cross-examination, quiz, research
      View synonyms
  • 2British An act of surveying a building.

    ‘the building society will insist that you have a survey done’
    • ‘No property may be classified as unfit unless it has been the subject of a full structural survey.’
    • ‘The survey's findings were far from encouraging, and indicated major structural problems.’
    • ‘She will report that a survey of the building at Thornton has been completed but families in the immediate vicinity are opposed to the development and discussions will be held with them.’
    • ‘The full survey is a four-week process which will see every inch of the baths covered and every architectural detail recorded.’
    • ‘Before we agreed to buy the house we commissioned a full independent structural survey, which indicated everything was fine.’
    • ‘A surveyor, when making a building survey for a prospective purchaser, needs to advise the client of the presence and/or risk of fungal decay in the building.’
    • ‘They hope a recent survey by architects will identify a use for the building.’
    • ‘Abbey officials asked for a full survey of the building two years ahead of schedule because of recent storm damage.’
    • ‘The survey was confined to the plant room of the building below ground level, which is effectively separated from the water-filled competition pool by a wall.’
    valuation, appraisal, assessment, estimate, estimation, pricing
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A written report detailing the findings of a building survey.
      ‘the third type of report is a full structural survey’
      • ‘A recent survey of both buildings revealed than an estimated £607,127 of repair and maintenance works were outstanding.’
      • ‘The survey concluded that the electrics were antiquated and that any interior work would be pointless without the large scale repair of the roof.’
      • ‘A structural survey on the building described the windmill as ‘dangerous in parts’ and immediate work was needed.’
      • ‘If the survey reports any problems you will need to estimate how much it will cost to put it right and adjust your offer accordingly.’
  • 3An act of surveying an area of land.

    ‘the flight involved a detailed aerial survey of military bases’
    • ‘Most information on their abundance and distribution is based on the larger islands, and the smaller islands are not always even included in aerial surveys.’
    • ‘Aerial surveys found that nearly 60 percent of the reef area in the marine park was heat-stressed to some extent as indicated by bleaching.’
    • ‘Aerial surveys are also followed by spotter and safety craft to curtail operations should marine life or nontarget hazards enter the ranges during the exercises.’
    • ‘M. Turman was indispensable as the pilot for the aerial surveys.’
    • ‘That isolation along with a lack of funding for extensive aerial and ground surveys translate to light monitoring - nothing near the scale and intensity aimed at ducks.’
    • ‘Aerial surveys have shown over 2,000 jellies squeezed together into an area the size of a football field.’
    • ‘After extensive aerial surveys, scientists in a joint survey of the GBR this year discovered that coral bleaching has affected more than 60 per cent of the reef system.’
    • ‘He said extensive surveys had found no signs of the newt.’
    • ‘What is more, they counted all of those 100 sheep in an area where the aerial survey had found no sheep at all.’
    • ‘Since the aerial surveys occurred in different areas and at different times of the year, it was impossible to compare their results directly.’
    • ‘In more than 28 years of flying aerial wildlife surveys, I've had the opportunity to work on many unique projects.’
    • ‘Aerial surveys revealed that a small Rhine tributary had once carved an island here, and the silted channel was promptly dredged.’
    • ‘Aerial surveys show that Louisiana's barrier islands have sustained especially heavy losses from Katrina's scouring winds and waves.’
    • ‘The two essential methods of prairie dog tabulation are aerial surveys and old-fashioned head counts.’
    • ‘A geophysical survey revealed little, and we opened only three of four proposed trenches.’
    • ‘Along the way, instruments could make a detailed survey of the land or sea below.’
    • ‘Potentially suitable patches were determined from aerial surveys and ground checks.’
    • ‘Not only was Hutton teaching and writing textbooks, but he also undertook a land survey of the area around Newcastle for the mayor and corporation of the city.’
    • ‘Approximately 85% of the study area burned, as estimated by ground surveys and aerial photography.’
    • ‘The officer said they have conducted an aerial survey which showed extensive damage in different villages due to the rain.’
    1. 3.1A map, plan, or detailed description obtained by surveying an area.
      • ‘Other surveys were recently on view at the Fine Art Society in London and the National Museum, Cardiff, Wales.’
    2. 3.2A department carrying out the surveying of land.
      ‘the British Geological Survey’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘examine and ascertain the condition of’): from Anglo-Norman French surveier, from medieval Latin supervidere, from super- over + videre to see. The early sense of the noun (late 15th century) was ‘supervision’.