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 Last week, a former Australian spy was convicted over his unconfirmed role as a whistleblower who revealed an espionage operation against the government of East Timor. Rod Mcguirk, Star Tribune, 20 June 2021 In it, not unlike Ian Fleming, Maugham falls back on his own experience as a British spy to evoke an espionage centric picture of Geneva of princesses, odd characters (‘the Hairless Mexican’), disappearances and the generally humdrum life of a spy. Mike O'sullivan, Forbes, 18 June 2021 His comment effectively took the word of a former Soviet intelligence officer over that of the US espionage community. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 15 June 2021 The European Union has been hardening its views of China in the face of Beijing’s human rights behavior at home and trade and espionage practices abroad. New York Times, 14 June 2021 Yet the concerns extended well beyond those two clubs, with many others seen as potential perpetrators of sign-stealing espionage., 10 June 2021 The sinking followed a series of suspicious incidents across Iran that some experts chalk up to Israeli espionage. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 7 June 2021 But almost all of the U.S. scientists affected by the initiative have been charged with lying about their funding ties to Chinese entities, not with espionage or theft of intellectual property. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, 3 June 2021 Hekmati has vigorously disputed the espionage suspicions and has never been charged. Eric Tucker, Detroit Free Press, 3 June 2021

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

23 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Espionage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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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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