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 Iranian officials disclosed last July that Ms. Adelkhah had been arrested on espionage charges. Nasser Karimi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Iran journalist sentenced to death over 2017 protest work," 30 June 2020 Iranian officials disclosed last July that Adelkhah had been arrested on espionage charges. Washington Post, "Iran journalist who fueled 2017 protests sentenced to death," 30 June 2020 China has previously denied that its detention of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, held on espionage charges, had anything to do with the Meng case. David Meyer, Fortune, "The big question now is how to reopen," 25 June 2020 However when his plane landed, he was met not by his family, but state security agents -- beginning a years-long ordeal that resulted, in July 2018, in him being sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage. James Griffiths, CNN, "How this Long Island man ended up in a Chinese prison on espionage charges," 25 June 2020 Officials thought Beijing could physically access the cable for espionage—in this case by capturing internet traffic. Justin Sherman, Wired, "The US-China Battle Over the Internet Goes Under the Sea," 24 June 2020 Paul Whelan, the former U.S. Marine sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison on espionage charges, won’t appeal the decision, his lawyer told local media. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "Former Marine convicted of spying in Russia won’t appeal decision in hopes of prisoner swap," 23 June 2020 And in recent years, several Chinese American scholars and academics, including professor Xiaoxing Xi and scientist Sherry Chen, have been wrongfully accused of espionage by the U.S. government. NBC News, "Trump can't claim 'Kung Flu' doesn't affect Asian Americans in this climate, experts say," 22 June 2020 Netflix's latest dramatic thriller, Wasp Network, tells the true story of René González (Edgar Ramírez), a member of the espionage group dubbed the Cuban Five or the Wasp Network. Lydia Wang,, "Here’s What Happened To Olga After The Events Of Wasp Network," 20 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for espionage

Time Traveler

The first known use of espionage was in 1793

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Statistics for espionage

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Espionage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for espionage


How to pronounce espionage (audio) How to pronounce espionage (audio)

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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