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

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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

Soon after, Canada arrested a senior executive of Huawei at the U.S. request on charges related to violating Iran sanctions, and Washington began to ratchet up moves to slow the flow of technology to Huawei and portray it as an espionage threat. Bob Davis, WSJ, "China to Insist U.S. Lift Huawei Ban as Part of Trade Truce," 27 June 2019 From drones that monitor operations to facial-recognition technologies that control access to container yards, port facilities provide nearly perfect cover for cyber-espionage. Christopher R. O'dea, National Review, "How China Weaponized the Global Supply Chain," 20 June 2019 Since then, Huawei has faced a government crackdown in the United States, as officials argue the company could be used by the Chinese government for espionage. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Ripping Huawei out of US networks could be a nightmare for rural providers," 5 June 2019 Demers and other officials testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about espionage threats from China. Michael Balsamo, The Seattle Times, "US officials: China poses serious national security threat," 12 Dec. 2018 All this was going on, despite an explicit warning from the FBI to Trump soon after his nomination about potential espionage threats from Russia, according to NBC News. Jeff Stein, Newsweek, "Putin’s Man in the White House? Real Trump Russia Scandal is Not Mere Collusion, U.S. Counterspies Say," 21 Dec. 2017 Rathom had made his name printing sensational and often fictitious tales of German espionage in the United States. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The “Star-Spangled Banner” Controversy That Altered the Course of American Music," 2 July 2019 In addition to state propaganda, dramas portraying World War II were popular, like the espionage thriller Seventeen Moments of Spring. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Soviets Used Magnifying Glasses to Watch TV," 19 June 2019 Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported on a Russian digital espionage campaign targeting Bartholomew's top aides in the midst of the religious tussle between Kiev and Moscow over the religious future of Ukraine. Ayse Wieting, Fox News, "Cleric: 'No going back' on Ukraine split from Russia Church," 31 Aug. 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

21 Jul 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 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

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