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

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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

The cub tried to sneak up on him, but was quickly espied by the older lion. Kelli Bender,, "Incredible Photos Show Real-Life Mufasa and Simba Sharing a Sweet Hug on the Savanna," 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,, "Nature center, shuttered since Katrina, reopens in New Orleans East," 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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Statistics for espy

Last Updated

30 Jun 2019

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

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English Language Learners Definition of espy

formal + literary : to see or notice (someone or something)


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

Kids Definition of espy

: to catch sight of

More from Merriam-Webster on espy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with espy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for espy

Comments on espy

What made you want to look up espy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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