phishing

noun
phish·​ing | \ˈfi-shiŋ \

Definition of phishing 

: a scam by which an Internet user is duped (as by a deceptive e-mail message) into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from phishing

phisher \ ˈfi-​shər \ noun

Did You Know?

Phishing is one of the many new computer-related terms that have found their way into the general lexicon over the past decade or so. Its "ph" spelling is influenced by an earlier word for an illicit act: "phreaking." Phreaking involves fraudulently using an electronic device to avoid paying for telephone calls, and its name is suspected of being a shortening of "phone freak." A common phishing scam involves sending e-mails that appear to come from banks requesting recipients to verify their accounts by typing personal details, such as credit card information, into a Web site that has been disguised to look like the real thing. Such scams can be thought of as "fishing" for naive recipients.

Examples of phishing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The search giant just announced its Titan Security Key Bundle, a pair of two security keys designed to act the second factor in two-factor authentication and make phishing attacks basically impossible. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Google's New Dongles Will Help Protect You From Hackers," 30 Aug. 2018 The group of men are also believed to have successfully hacked into the iCloud accounts of dozens of celebrities, such as Lucy Hale, Kirsten Dunst, Rihanna, and Kate Upton, by using a phishing scheme. Devon Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Hacker Who Stole Private Photos of Jennifer Lawrence Sentenced to Prison," 30 Aug. 2018 For example, the Gmail address the GRU used to test-drive its phishing messages on March 19, 2016, was also used to register a Den Katenberg Twitter account , according to Twitter’s ‘‘Find friends’’ feature. Raphael Satter, BostonGlobe.com, "Long-hidden hackers unmasked by special counsel investigation," 13 July 2018 Aleksey Lukashev, an email phishing specialist with Unit 26165 of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate, often abbreviated GRU. Raphael Satter, chicagotribune.com, "Elusive Russian hackers unmasked by U.S. special counsel," 13 July 2018 High number of attempts Three people familiar with the matter - including a current and a former government official - previously told the AP that the FBI knew the details of Fancy Bear's phishing campaign for more than a year. Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, "Russian hackers reportedly targeted U.S. defense contractors," 7 Feb. 2018 Some of the biggest cyberattacks have only been possible because of human error—picking up an infected USB drive placed in a parking lot and plugging it into a computer, say, or clicking on a bad link in a phishing email. Jens Stoltenberg, WIRED, "How NATO Defends Against the Dark Side of the Web," 9 June 2018 Aleksey Lukashev, an email phishing specialist with Unit 26165 of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, often abbreviated GRU. Raphael Satter, BostonGlobe.com, "Long-hidden hackers unmasked by special counsel investigation," 13 July 2018 With this access, scam artists can download malware to the victim's computer, launch phishing attacks against the victim's contacts and access the victim's personal information such as tax returns or health records, the FBI said. Angela Forburger, azcentral, "FBI: Big increase in tech-support fraud in Arizona this year," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phishing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of phishing

1996, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phishing

alteration (influenced by phreaking) of fishing

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about phishing

Listen to Our Podcast about phishing

Dictionary Entries near phishing

phimotic

Phiomia

phi phenomenon

phishing

Phi Tong Luang

phiz

phleb-

Statistics for phishing

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for phishing

The first known use of phishing was in 1996

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for phishing

phishing

noun
phish·​ing | \ˈfi-shiŋ \

Legal Definition of phishing 

: a fraudulent operation by which an e-mail user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information which can be used for illicit purposes (as identity theft)

History and Etymology for phishing

alteration of fishing (probably influenced by phreaking illegal access to a phone system)

More from Merriam-Webster on phishing

Nglish: Translation of phishing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about phishing

Comments on phishing

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a trusted follower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!