es·pi·o·nage | \ ˈe-spē-ə-ˌnäzh , -ˌnäj , -nij , Canadian also -ˌnazh ; ˌe-spē-ə-ˈnäzh ; i-ˈspē-ə-nij \

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

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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

Just last year, WikiLeaks published a huge cache of the CIA’s hacking arsenal the agency uses to conduct espionage overseas. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Spyware theft case offers a cautionary tale for encryption debate," 6 July 2018 Huajian has dismissed those allegations as false and said the men were conducting industrial espionage. Erika Kinetz,, "Men who investigated Ivanka Trump's China shoe suppliers released on bail," 26 June 2018 The charges come less than a month after a former Central Intelligence Agency officer suspected of helping China unravel the agency’s spy network in that country was indicted on a charge of conspiring to commit espionage. Mike Ives, New York Times, "U.S. Army Veteran Tried to Spy for China, Officials Say," 5 June 2018 The charges come less than a month after a former CIA officer suspected of helping China unravel the agency’s spy network in that country was indicted on a charge of conspiring to commit espionage. Mike Ives,, "US Army veteran tried to spy for China, officials say," 5 June 2018 Earlier this month, Jerry Lee, a former CIA case officer believed to have helped China identify and kill members of the US spy network in the country, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage. David Shortell, CNN, "Trial begins for former CIA officer accused of spying for China," 30 May 2018 But under questioning by Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, Evanina said U.S. intelligence agencies are on record as assessing that Chinese telecommunication firms are used as a vehicle by the Chinese government to conduct espionage. Ken Dilanian /, NBC News, "Top intelligence official says Chinese ZTE cellphones pose security risk to U.S.," 15 May 2018 Hanssen was arrested and charged on Feb. 18, 2001 with committing espionage on behalf of the intelligence services of the former Soviet Union and its successors, according to the FBI's website. CBS News, "U.S. indicts ex-CIA officer suspected of passing info to Chinese agents," 9 May 2018 The 1967-68 season was full of westerns (a surprising lot of them), quasi-westerns, World War II dramas, cop and lawyer shows, a little espionage, a little sci-fi. Robert Lloyd,, "Watching 'The Smothers Brothers,' 'Laugh-In' and the Democratic National Convention," 20 Apr. 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for espionage

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for espionage

The first known use of espionage was in 1793

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More Definitions for espionage



English Language Learners Definition of espionage

: the things that are done to find out secrets from enemies or competitors : the activity of spying


es·pi·o·nage | \ ˈe-spē-ə-ˌnäzh \

Kids Definition of espionage

: the practice of spying : the use of spies


es·pi·o·nage | \ ˈes-pē-ə-ˌnäzh, -ˌnäj, -nij \

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

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