I initially assumed surveillor, but apparently that isn't a word. Is there a word for such a person that derives from surveillance? Meaning it starts with the root "survei-"

His job is to conduct surveillance at the mall. He is a _____.

  • surveillant
    – Færd
    Nov 16, 2015 at 19:00
  • It probably depends on whether the person is watching CCTV in a little room or following people around shops.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 15, 2023 at 14:49

4 Answers 4


It's surveillant (as mentioned in the comments) or spy.

surveillant: One that exercises surveillance.


spy: One who secretly keeps watch on another or others.


  • That's reasonable, but what about the good old American 'gumshoe'?
    – Tuffy
    Oct 14, 2023 at 20:56
  • @Tuffy, if you think that gumshoe is a good alternative answer, why don't you post it as such? (I don't think that it is, because it is limited to certain kinds of surveillance, but then the same is true of a couple of other answers, which did receive some upvotes.)
    – jsw29
    Oct 15, 2023 at 15:10

Even though it doesn't start with "surveil-," I will go with [static] security officer/guard and loss prevention officer or specialist or detective.

Careers in Mall Security: Job Options and Requirements

Static Positions

Static mall security positions are primarily surveillance positions that require the officer to monitor the property from one location, usually by watching video feeds from security cameras. Static officers then communicate their findings to mobile officers, who investigate and address the situation. Static security officers may also be called loss prevention specialists or loss prevention detectives; mall or store management may hire these professionals to develop strategies to minimize loss by theft, and train other security officers in applying those strategies. Study.com

  • Guards probably must watch to protect, but those doing surveillance are charged only with watching.
    – deadrat
    Nov 16, 2015 at 21:02
  • +1 for security guard. "Watchman" is another possibility.
    – Graffito
    Nov 16, 2015 at 23:54
  • @deadrat A surveillant is charged with watching over a person, group, etc., especially one in custody or under suspicion. thefreedictionary.com/surveillance
    – Elian
    Nov 16, 2015 at 23:55
  • @Elian That's right. Surveillance is watching. This is different from guarding.
    – deadrat
    Nov 17, 2015 at 1:42
  • 1
    @Elian I think I finally understand. The French word surveillant means a guard, but the English word surveillant means someone who conducts surveillance, in other words, a watcher.
    – deadrat
    Nov 17, 2015 at 4:49

"Surveillor" should be a valid word, for example I just came across this excellent usage:

There's a strong physiological basis for privacy. Biologist Peter Watts makes the point that a desire for privacy is innate: mammals in particular don't respond well to surveillance. We consider it a physical threat because animals in the natural world are surveilled by predators. Surveillance makes us feel like prey, just as it makes the surveillors act like predators.

From Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier, p. 126-127


Watchdog is used at times, for instance UN watchdog is keeping an eye on facilities.

Another example here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/06/un-watchdog-confirms-mustard-gas-attack-in-syria

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