es·​pi·​o·​nage | \ ˈe-spē-ə-ˌnäzh How to pronounce espionage (audio) , -ˌnäj, -nij, Canadian also -ˌnazh; ˌe-spē-ə-ˈnäzh; i-ˈspē-ə-nij How to pronounce espionage (audio) \

Definition of espionage

: the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company industrial espionage

Synonyms for espionage


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Examples of espionage in a Sentence

He was charged with several counts of espionage. the acts of espionage on behalf of the Confederacy carried on by Belle Boyd and Rose Greenhow
Recent Examples on the Web Whelan was convicted on charges pertaining to alleged espionage in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 29 July 2022 An analysis of this person’s browsing history showed searches for articles about economic espionage. Aaron Gregg, Washington Post, 26 July 2022 Meanwhile, in Europe, the international action and espionage adventure Bullet Train had multiple screenings across several countries. Essence, 21 July 2022 Security professionals—some who have spent the past two decades watching clients and employees get infected with ransomware, wipers, and espionage with frustrating regularity—cheered the change. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 11 July 2022 The pair noted that China has conducted extensive espionage around the world and interfered in elections and other political proceedings. Wired, 10 July 2022 The heads of the FBI and Britain’s domestic security service issued sharply worded warnings to business leaders about the threats posed by Chinese espionage, especially spying aimed at stealing Western tech companies’ intellectual property. WSJ, 7 July 2022 She's been overpowered and stabbed with a lightsaber by Vader, who found out about her espionage. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 15 June 2022 Members of the group were ultimately convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government, among other charges. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'espionage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of espionage

1793, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for espionage

French espionnage, from Middle French, from espionner to spy, from espion spy, from Old Italian spione, from spia, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German spehōn to spy — more at spy

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Time Traveler for espionage

Time Traveler

The first known use of espionage was in 1793

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Espírito Santo

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Statistics for espionage

Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Espionage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for espionage


es·​pi·​o·​nage | \ ˈe-spē-ə-ˌnäzh How to pronounce espionage (audio) \

Kids Definition of espionage

: the practice of spying : the use of spies


es·​pi·​o·​nage | \ ˈes-pē-ə-ˌnäzh, -ˌnäj, -nij How to pronounce espionage (audio) \

Legal Definition of espionage

: the practice of gathering, transmitting, or losing through gross negligence information relating to the defense of the U.S. with the intent that or with reason to believe that the information will be used to the injury of the U.S. or the advantage of a foreign nation

More from Merriam-Webster on espionage

Nglish: Translation of espionage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of espionage for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about espionage


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