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.

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.

Definitions of surveillance

n close observation of a person or group (usually by the police)

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electronic surveillance
surveillance by electronic means (e.g. television)
vigil, watch
a purposeful surveillance to guard or observe
surveillance of some place or some person by the police (as in anticipation of a crime)
surveillance of disease
the ongoing systematic collection and analysis of data about an infectious disease that can lead to action being taken to control or prevent the disease
continuous receiver watch, listening watch
a watch established for the reception of traffic of interest to the unit maintaining the watch
keeping a secret or furtive watch
Type of:
police investigation, police work
the investigation of criminal activities

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