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[sen-suh s] /ˈsɛn səs/
noun, plural censuses.
an official enumeration of the population, with details as to age, sex, occupation, etc.
(in ancient Rome) the registration of citizens and their property, for purposes of taxation.
verb (used with object)
to take a census of (a country, city, etc.):
The entire nation is censused every 10 years.
1605-15; < Latin: a listing and property assessment of citizens, equivalent to cēns(ēre) to assess, register (citizens) in a census + -tus suffix of v. action; for -s- in place of -st- see censor
Related forms
[sen-shoo-uh l] /ˈsɛn ʃu əl/ (Show IPA),
precensus, noun
Can be confused
census, consensus (see usage note at consensus) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for census
  • Obviously there were limitations on what box they could check on the census form, for example.
  • And speaking of animals, they too need a census of their own.
  • Eukaryotic cells with internal structures had appeared, but multicellular creatures were scarcely a blip in the census.
  • He had a beautiful business plan with census data, market research, complicated models and strict customer acquisition budgets.
  • Then apply proportion of people at risk, within that census, against the total homeless population of the area.
  • UN clusters attempt a census on the fly to identify needs.
  • census data have corroborated the devastating impact on households.
  • The drop in payroll employment was due, in no small part, to the continuing drawdown in the temporary census workforce.
  • Actually, that census is for people working in purely government agencies.
  • Armies of census-takers are now in training for the national census of the economy due to be held at the end of the year.
British Dictionary definitions for census


noun (pl) -suses
an official periodic count of a population including such information as sex, age, occupation, etc
any offical count: a traffic census
(in ancient Rome) a registration of the population and a property evaluation for purposes of taxation
Derived Forms
censual, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from cēnsēre to assess
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
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Word Origin and History for census

1610s, from Latin census "the enrollment of the names and property assessments of all Roman citizens," originally past participle of censere "to assess" (see censor (n.)). The modern census begins in the U.S., 1790., and Revolutionary France. Property for taxation was the primary purpose in Rome, hence Latin census also was used for "one's wealth, one's worth, wealthiness."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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census in the Bible

There are five instances of a census of the Jewish people having been taken. (1.) In the fourth month after the Exodus, when the people were encamped at Sinai. The number of men from twenty years old and upward was then 603,550 (Ex. 38:26). (2.) Another census was made just before the entrance into Canaan, when the number was found to be 601,730, showing thus a small decrease (Num. 26:51). (3.) The next census was in the time of David, when the number, exclusive of the tribes of Levi and Benjamin, was found to be 1,300,000 (2 Sam. 24:9; 1 Chr. 21:5). (4.) Solomon made a census of the foreigners in the land, and found 153,600 able-bodied workmen (2 Chr. 2:17, 18). (5.) After the return from Exile the whole congregation of Israel was numbered, and found to amount to 42,360 (Ezra 2:64). A census was made by the Roman government in the time of our Lord (Luke 2:1). (See TAXING.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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