Definition of surveil in English:


(also surveille)


  • Keep (a person or place) under surveillance.

    ‘he deployed FBI agents to surveil the offices of those companies’
    • ‘My concern is that this will be tied in with Britain's surveillance system so you'll be literally surveilled at every turn.’
    • ‘There may be other groups that the police are actively surveilling at the moment.’
    • ‘A very simple way to "hide" a camera is to install it at a large distance from the space to be surveilled.’
    • ‘Sources say Customs and FBI agents there had been surveilling him for a while before he was taken into immigration custody in November.’
    • ‘He had been in charge of a department that surveilled foreigners.’
    • ‘But at the same time, we are surveilled every day of our lives and we don't mind it in the least.’
    • ‘Americans don't like to think that we're being surveilled.’
    • ‘He explained, very simply and very carefully and honestly, what he had done to surveil this family because of his suspicions.’
    • ‘The NYPD rotates six helicopters to surveil the city from above.’
    • ‘I am surveilled by electronic spies like cookies and trojans.’
    • ‘If you suspect your home or office has been searched or that you are being surveilled, contact the NLG or a criminal lawyer.’
    • ‘As I went through the documents more closely, I discovered that for all the human resources expended in surveilling us, there was remarkably little real information.’
    • ‘We're told that there were many, many police surveilling these men for a long period of time and they were watching to see what they were doing.’
    • ‘For three weeks, he's been on assignment for a hydroelectric company, surveilling their underwater power cables that stretch from the mainland to Vancouver Island.’
    • ‘Six frigates and several RAAF aircraft would be surveilling the Australian coastline between Ashmore Reef and Christmas Island.’
    • ‘You cannot possibly surveil all of the ocean and shoreline.’
    • ‘We're heading into a world where everyone can surveil everyone else.’
    • ‘A police helicopter surveilled the whole scene from above.’
    • ‘Two witnesses also say that they saw him surveilling the scene weeks before.’


1960s: back-formation from surveillance.