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

In March, Turkey arrested two Greek soldiers who strayed across the Turkish border while on patrol, and has accused them of espionage. Nektaria Stamouli, WSJ, "Greek Court Grants Asylum to Turkish Soldier, Raising Tensions With Ankara," 24 May 2018 Saarinen's job was to work on models of buildings and weaponry during a time when the organization was responsible for foreign espionage operations in World War II, reports Dezeen. Kelsey Kloss, ELLE Decor, "Eero Saarinen Apparently Designed Weapons For The United States Government," 22 June 2016 Blanco nevertheless remained close to people in the world of espionage. Nora Gámez Torres, miamiherald, "He now hunts Cuban human-rights abusers in the U.S. Was he once an offender himself?," 12 July 2018 Then, days later, the president tweeted that his administration would ease sanctions against a Chinese smartphone maker accused of espionage. Tami Abdollah,, "Can anything stop foreign government favors to Trump?," 23 May 2018 Kim Dong Chul, a former Virginia resident who had reportedly run a company on North Korea's border with Russia, had been sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage. CBS News, "Trump to greet detainees freed from North Korea," 10 May 2018 The grand jury indictment announced Tuesday came after Lee's arrest in January, when he was charged with unlawful retention of national defense information but did not yet face a charge of espionage. Eli Watkins, CNN, "Former CIA officer is charged with espionage," 8 May 2018 Under the Obama administration, the government indicted in absentia five Chinese military officers for engaging in commercial espionage. Carlos Tejada, New York Times, "Beg, Borrow or Steal: How Trump Says China Takes Technology," 22 Mar. 2018 Now a report from a leading U.S. cybersecurity firm suggests such cases may be linked to a large scale operation from a Chinese cyber espionage group seeking to monitor the country’s upcoming and contentious July 29 national elections. Abby Seiff / Phnom Penh, Time, "Chinese State-Linked Hackers in Large Scale Operation to Monitor Cambodia's Upcoming Elections, Report Says," 11 July 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

10 Nov 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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full of whispering sounds

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