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

Definition of espy

transitive verb

: to catch sight of among the several horses … she espied the white mustang— Zane 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 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'espy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of espy

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for espy

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near espy

esprit de l'escalier



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Cite this Entry

“Espy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for espy


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

Kids Definition of espy

: to catch sight of


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