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Back-formation from surveillance, or directly from French surveiller.



surveil (third-person singular simple present surveils, present participle surveilling, simple past and past participle surveilled)

  1. (transitive, US) To keep someone or something under surveillance.
    The plaintiff also stresses that the store as a whole, and the customer exits especially, were closely surveilled.
    Alexandre of London v. Indem. Ins. Co., 182 F. Supp. 748, 750 (United States District Court for the District of Columbia) (1960), cited in Bryan A. Garner. A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage (2nd ed., 2001) p. 861

Usage notes[edit]

Has no longer been considered nonstandard for quite a while, and is now found without any comment in major American dictionaries and some British dictionaries, some of which even no longer label it as American, for example Collins. The 2015 edition of Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage labels it as "mostly AmE".