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

Spy chiefs from Australia to the U.K. have signaled concern that China could use Huawei for espionage, though no evidence of back doors or hacks related to the company has been produced. Josh Chin, WSJ, "Huawei CEO Says Company Doesn’t Spy for China, Praises Trump," 15 Jan. 2019 This would open up some real possibilities for military espionage, communications, and more, obviously. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Small sat space race goes global, SpaceX nearing demo flight," 20 July 2018 Turkish prosecutors have charged them with espionage: Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, compared Mr Erdogan to a sultan and accused him of turning the men into hostages. The Economist, "Turkey and Greece ratchet up tension in the Mediterranean," 12 Apr. 2018 Foreign Policy magazine reported in February that the US intelligence community had been setting up infrastructure all over the peninsula in order to be prepared to carry out cyberattacks or conduct espionage. Jenna Mclaughlin, CNN, "US wary of North Korean cyber prowess ahead of Kim-Trump summit," 21 May 2018 Across the West concerns are growing that universities rely too heavily on fee income from Chinese students, exposing the institutions concerned to the risk of espionage in high-tech labs and ideological interference by the Chinese state. The Economist, "Opening the gatesChinese travellers of all sorts have become ubiquitous," 17 May 2018 Washington is alleging Chinese cyberattacks, while taking steps to curb the growing market share of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. over concerns its equipment, found on networks around the world, could be used for espionage. WSJ, "Year of Living Dangerously With Friends and Foes," 17 Dec. 2018 Kim Dong Chul, 64, was arrested in October 2015 and has been serving a 10-year term with hard labor for alleged espionage. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "North Korea moves 3 detained Americans to hotel, reports say; Trump says 'Stay tuned!'," 2 Oct. 2018 American officials have for years voiced concerns that ZTE equipment may be used by the Chinese government for espionage or network disruption, an allegation also leveled against the firm’s main Chinese rival, Huawei. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, "China’s ZTE, Saved by U.S., Has a Checkered Past and Shaky Future," 8 June 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

20 Jan 2019

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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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