Census Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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Did you know that the U.S. Constitution mandates a census every ten years to count every person that resides within the United States? Yup, it’s true — the first census took place in 1790, and Census Day has taken place on April 1st every decade since 1930. 

What does the word census mean, you ask? We’ll tell you. Read on to discover all you need to know about our word of the day — census (/ˈsɛn səs/ /ˈ sɛnsəs/). 

What Is the Definition of Census?

If we look at the Britannica English Dictionary, we see that census (pronounced sen-suhs) is primarily used as a noun; however, it can also be used as a verb.

Below we have listed out the meanings behind census as both a verb and a noun to clear up any confusion that you may have and help us get to the bottom of all things related to the census:

  • Noun (plural form cen·sus·es) — an official enumeration of the population with details as to ethnic and racial background, ages, occupation, age, as well as other various classifications. 
  • Verb (when used with an object) — to take a census or conduct a census; for example, the park rangers censused all the black bears within the state park.
  • Noun — in ancient Rome, a census was used for taxation purposes and was defined as the registration of citizens and their property. 

Within the United States, a national census is carried out every ten years and is performed by the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts various demographic surveys such as: 

  • The American Community Survey (ACS)
  • The Decennial Census of Population and Housing
  • The Current Population Survey (CPS)
  • The American Housing Survey (AHS)
  • The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)

The Census Bureau is not just in charge of demographic surveys; they conduct economic surveys as well

They’re responsible for conducting surveys of minority-owned businesses, surveys of women-owned businesses, and surveys of construction, manufacturers, financial, insurance, construction, services, and mineral industries, among many others. 

What Is the Word Origin of Census?

First recorded in the 1610s in reference to taxation and registration in Roman history, derived from the Latin census, as well as from cēnsēre “to assess, appraise, perform the duties of a censor or give as an opinion.”

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms?

To enhance your overall understanding of our word of the day, we compiled a list of synonyms and antonyms for you to study below. 

Synonyms are words that have the same — or almost the same — meaning as another word, whereas antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning of another word. 

What Are Synonyms of Census?

  • Count 
  • Tally
  • Tale
  • Register
  • Fact-finding
  • Information gathering
  • Adding up 
  • Total
  • Market research 
  • Statistical study 
  • Degree 
  • Adding together  
  • Counting up  
  • Point
  • Summing-up
  • Whole amount
  • Sum-up
  • Official count
  • Total number
  • Average
  • Final figure
  • Stock
  • Show of hands 
  • Rate
  • Body count
  • Headcount
  • Attendance check 
  • Summary  
  • Number of people 
  • Whole nine yards
  • Whole bit 
  • Final total 
  • Whole shebang 
  • The whole kit and caboodle 
  • Final amount 
  • Final count
  • Number of points
  • Straw vote 
  • Final score 
  • End result
  • Number of runs 
  • Number of goals 
  • Numbers
  • Figures
  • Figuring 
  • Ciphering
  • Stats 
  • Sums
  • Estimation  
  • Estimate  
  • Statistics 
  • Poll 
  • Public opinion research 
  • Enumeration 
  • Headcount 
  • Population tally 
  • Demographics 
  • Working out
  • Weighing up
  • Grand total 

What Are Antonyms of Census?

  • Estimate 
  • Guess
  • Estimation
  • Approximation
  • Guesstimate
  • Approximate calculation
  • Ballpark figure
  • Rough calculator
  • Difference
  • Balance 
  • Excess
  • Extra
  • Remainder
  • Remains
  • Outstanding amount
  • Remaining amount 

How Can You Use Census in a Sentence?

Now that you understand the meaning behind census let’s practice using our word of the day in a sentence. Below, you’ll find a few excellent sentence examples that properly use the word census:

“Kayleigh was stopped the other day while driving her truck for a traffic census.” 

“Did you know that we are finally producing a census of immigrants?”

“My brother keeps bothering me asking for details about the last census, but as census takers, we are forbidden by law to reveal any personal information.” 

“I read in the local newspaper that they recently took a national pet census, and you might be surprised to know that cats now outnumber dogs in households across the country — but just by a whisker.” 

“Every year for census day, our social studies teacher dresses up as though he is from ancient Rome for the day to celebrate — such a weird character he is!” 

“Did you get the census questionnaire in the mail?”

“The United States of America has a census every ten years.”

“If you’re looking for information on the country’s population, I suggest looking up the census.”

“According to the last census, over six thousand people live in our city.”

What Are Translations of Census?

Wondering how to say census in a different language? We’ve got you covered! Here are some common translations of our word of the day, census:

  • Afrikaans — Sensus
  • Arabic — التعداد
  • Bulgarian — преброяване
  • Chinese (simplified) — 人口普查
  • Croatian — popis stanovništva
  • Czech — sčítání lidu
  • Danish — folketælling
  • Dutch — volkstelling
  • Finnish — väestönlaskenta
  • French — recensement
  • German — Volkszählung
  • Greek — απογραφή πληθυσμού
  • Italian — censimento
  • Japanese — 戸籍
  • Korean — 인구조사
  • Norwegian — folketelling
  • Polish — spis ludności
  • Portuguese — recenseamento
  • Russian — перепись населения
  • Spanish — censo
  • Swedish — folkräkning
  • Thai — การสำรวจจำนวนประชากร
  • Turkish — nüfus sayımı
  • Ukrainian — перепис населення
  • Vietnamese — cuộc điều tra dân số


To recap our word of the day, census is a periodic count of the population.

If you’re like us over here at The Word Counter, you too will have to participate in a census every ten years, and no, that’s no April fools joke — though census day does fall on April 1st. 

Worry not, though, as this information is used to plan for social services, education, transportation, and other services we the people need. 


census | Facts, Definition, Methods, & History | Britannica

Census definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 

CENSUS: definition | Cambridge English Dictionary