General English

  • noun a vote or the act of voting



Information & Library Science

  • noun a survey in which a selected sample of people are asked their opinions about something


  • noun a survey asking people how they feel about something


  • noun the process of a political election.
  • verb to receive a particular number or percentage of votes in an election
  • verb to ask a representative number of people their opinion and to hope to discover as a result what the whole population thinks.

Origin & History of “poll”

‘Head’ is the original and central meaning of poll, from which all its modern uses have derived. The ‘voting’ sort of poll, for instance, which emerged in the 17th century, is etymologically a counting of ‘heads’, and the poll tax is a ‘per capita’ tax. The verb poll originally meant ‘cut someone’s hair’, a clear extension of the notion of ‘top’ or ‘head’ (the derived pollard (16th c.) denotes an ‘animal with its horns removed’ or a ‘tree with its top branches cut off’); this later developed to ‘cut evenly across’, which is what the poll of deed poll means (originally it was a legal agreement cut evenly across, signifying that only one person was party to it – agreements made between two or more people were cut with a wavy line).