Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

spy

play
verb \ˈspī\

Simple Definition of spy

  • : to try secretly to get information about a country, organization, etc. : to act as a spy

  • : to see or notice (someone or something)

Full Definition of spy

spiedspy·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to watch secretly usually for hostile purposes

  3. 2 :  to catch sight of :  see

  4. 3 :  to search or look for intensively —usually used with out <spy out places fit for vending…goods — S. E. Morison>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to observe or search for something :  look

  7. 2 :  to watch secretly as a spy

Examples of spy

  1. They were accused of spying for a foreign government.

  2. <I spy a motel off in the distance, so let's spend the night there.>



Origin of spy

Middle English spien, from Anglo-French espier, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German spehōn to spy; akin to Latin specere to look, look at, Greek skeptesthai & skopein to watch, look at, consider


First Known Use: 13th century

Rhymes with spy


2

spy

noun

Simple Definition of spy

  • : a person who tries secretly to get information about a country or organization for another country or organization

  • : someone who secretly watches the movement or actions of other people

Full Definition of spy

plural spies

  1. 1 :  one that spies:a :  one who keeps secret watch on a person or thing to obtain informationb :  a person employed by one nation to secretly convey classified information of strategic importance to another nation; also :  a person who conveys the trade secrets of one company to another

  2. 2 :  an act of spying

Examples of spy

  1. He was a spy for the CIA.

  2. My coworker is a spy for the boss.



13th Century

First Known Use of spy

13th century




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up spy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders spindrift duvet pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ