Definition of census in English:


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nounplural noun censuses

  • An official count or survey of a population, typically recording various details of individuals.

    ‘population estimates extrapolated from the 1981 census’
    • ‘census data’
    • ‘A local census of population, resource audit and needs analysis will also be compiled.’
    • ‘The traditional way of doing this has been to use death rates or self reported measures of chronic illness derived from censuses or surveys of the population.’
    • ‘The differences can be accounted for by the fact that these are samples, and not censuses of the population.’
    • ‘This area of London was surveyed again in 1991 as part of the UK census of population.’
    • ‘Recent censuses have confirmed a population shift away from the Northeast and Midwest, towards the South and West.’
    • ‘One of the main surprise findings of the census is that the population is ageing quicker than was previously thought.’
    • ‘They are based on a management plan that incorporates activities such as censuses of the populations and demographic research about particular species.’
    • ‘Direction and density of nocturnal migrants detected with radar and ceilometers were compared with changes in species counts from daily censuses.’
    • ‘There is no other state where the local populace is prouder to be counted in the census.’
    • ‘These machines, one of which is on display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, allowed the Nazis to punch out data cards and were used for population censuses in Germany in the 1930s.’
    • ‘Relief turned to panic in the late 1980s, when censuses of tiger populations began to reveal that many were ‘missing.’’
    • ‘The third kind of training produced researchers who conducted house-to-house censuses and applied a questionnaire about social and economic organization.’
    • ‘Profitability depended on accurate data and life assurance companies were active supporters of population censuses initiated by the government.’
    • ‘All mortalities are given per million population, with population sizes derived from censuses by interpolation or extrapolation.’
    • ‘These two segments of the population were aggregated in all population censuses prior to 2000.’
    • ‘Biologists taking censuses of animal populations or hunters tracking game are typical users.’
    • ‘By 1851 the census showed the urban population was larger than that of the rural areas.’
    • ‘Neither the county or district councils has felt it necessary to conduct a traffic census in recent years.’
    • ‘It's a national survey, it's a massive survey, but it's not a national census.’
    • ‘Part of the reason for the result is that no subdivisions were available in the census question.’
    poll, review, investigation, inquiry, study, probe, questionnaire, opinion poll, sampling, census, cross-examination, quiz, research



/ˈsensəs/ /ˈsɛnsəs/


Early 17th century (denoting a poll tax): from Latin, applied to the registration of citizens and property in ancient Rome, usually for taxation, from censere ‘assess’. The current sense dates from the mid 18th century.