es·​py i-ˈspī How to pronounce espy (audio)
espied; espying

transitive verb

: to catch sight of
among the several horses … she espied the white mustangZane Grey

Examples of espy in a Sentence

out of the corner of my eye I espied the squirrel making another raid on the bird feeder
Recent Examples on the Web Images taken from different realities, different spaces, times, places that have been sort of cut out and pasted together to create a new scene that depicts something that no human eye would ever have espied. Philip Martin, Arkansas Online, 13 Mar. 2023 Resentful 1970s émigrés were prodding the West to espy its true enemy not in communism, but in an irredeemable Russia. Ignat Solzhenitsyn, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2020 The cub tried to sneak up on him, but was quickly espied by the older lion. Kelli Bender,, 20 June 2019 For instance, visitors can scan through an electronic infographic for terrariums filled with camouflaging Gulf Coast toads, then head outside onto more than 2 miles of dirt and boardwalk trails to espy the bayou's flora and fauna. Beau Evans,, 6 Oct. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'espy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English espien, from Anglo-French espier — more at spy

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of espy was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near espy

Cite this Entry

“Espy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


es·​py is-ˈpī How to pronounce espy (audio)
espied; espying
: to catch sight of
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