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

Sometimes his espionage work verged on the exploits of James Bond. Peter Keough,, "Doc Talk: Snapping pictures, crossing borders, defying the mullahs, spying on Japan," 20 June 2019 Most authorities agree that Berg likely engaged in espionage-type activities even prior to the war. Kenneth Turan,, "'The Spy Behind Home Plate' review: Documentary digs into life of a complex ball player-turned-operative," 20 June 2019 Most authorities agree that Berg likely engaged in espionage-type activities even before the war. Kenneth Turan, Detroit Free Press, "Well-done doc reveals story of a ballplayer-turned-spy," 20 June 2019 Officials had said in an earlier statement that Morsi, 67, was taken to a hospital after his collapse as a session of his espionage trial was being adjourned, and pronounced dead there. Laura King,, "Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's death stirs memories of onetime democracy hopes," 17 June 2019 Monday's session was part of a retrial, held inside Cairo's Tora Prison, on charges of espionage with the Palestinian Hamas militant group. Samy Magdy, Anchorage Daily News, "Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Morsi dies in court while facing trial," 17 June 2019 The narrative shifts between the confines of the submarine, a knife-thin envelope of steel that keeps the men on top of each other (and at each others’ throats), and La Rochelle, where Simone is drawn into a shadowy espionage plot against the Nazis. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Das Boot," 14 June 2019 The American government blacklisted Huawei for long-simmering espionage concerns after trade talks between the world’s two largest economies broke down. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "The unintended consequences of Trump’s ban on Huawei are starting to appear," 8 June 2019 But the Russian menace remains, and is probably dwarfed by a far more subtle campaign of espionage by a great power of far greater capacity in China. Hugh Hewitt, Twin Cities, "Hugh Hewitt: America’s enemies are on notice about this president," 5 June 2019

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

23 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for espionage

The first known use of espionage was in 1793

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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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