Many times, a person suspected of something illegal by the authorities is placed under surveillance, meaning he or she is closely watched to see if their suspicions are well-founded.

  • Pronunciation: / sɝ'veləns/
  • English description: close observation of a person or group (usually by the police)
  • Synonyms: monitor
  • Chinese Translation:  监视(jian1 shi4)
  • Spanish Translation: la vigilancia
  • ORIGIN: If you break down the word surveillance you get the prefix sur, from the French word for "over" and the root veiller, meaning "to watch." All of which is a roundabout way of saying that if you are under surveillance, you are being closely watched — usually by the authorities, and usually not for a good reason! Those surveillance cameras in banks and stores are put there in the hopes of both preventing crimes and recognizing criminals after a crime has been committed.


  • Detectives are working to recover surveillance video from nearby businesses.
  • This whole idea of mass surveillance on American citizens and, frankly, on citizens on Europe.

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