spy

verb
\ ˈspī How to pronounce spy (audio) \
spied; spying

Definition of spy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to watch secretly usually for hostile purposes
2 : to catch sight of : see
3 : to search or look for intensively usually used with outspy out places fit for vending … goods— S. E. Morison

intransitive verb

1 : to observe or search for something : look
2 : to watch secretly as a spy

spy

noun
plural spies

Definition of spy (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that spies:
a : one who keeps secret watch on a person or thing to obtain information
b : a person employed by one nation to secretly convey classified information of strategic importance to another nation also : a person who conveys the trade secrets of one company to another
2 : an act of spying

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Examples of spy in a Sentence

Verb They were accused of spying for a foreign government. I spy a motel off in the distance, so let's spend the night there. Noun He was a spy for the CIA. My coworker is a spy for the boss.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The boys will spy on the teen couple next door, but the drone gets snagged, and the nightmare journey has just begun. Ramona Sentinel, "Flickers: ‘Angel Has Fallen’ and ‘Overcomer’ open Friday," 20 Aug. 2019 In the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in 2015, the police spied on Black Lives Matter protesters with face recognition technology. Ava Kofman, ProPublica, "Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt," 3 July 2019 Lucas spied on Hawkins National Laboratory and warned Mike and Dustin of impending danger. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "The story so far: Catch up with 10 Hawkins, Indiana, favorites before 'Stranger Things 3'," 2 July 2019 The app spied on users in an effort to identify bars that were showing pirated streams of soccer games. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Spanish soccer league’s app caught eavesdropping on users in anti-piracy push," 12 June 2019 The pilot spied something in the mound — the tip of a snowboard. Author: Christine Hauser, Anchorage Daily News, "Friends rescue snowboarder swept away by avalanche in Canadian backcountry," 27 Apr. 2018 And about his Cold War spying tale: Wehr was playing trombone full time in an opera house in Poland during the 1980s, when the anti-communist social movement known as Solidarity was gaining steam. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "For Orlando Contemporary Chamber Orchestra, concert has video-game vibe," 9 Sep. 2019 The Hong Kong government has acknowledged that the lampposts have enough hardware to spy on citizens, but says protesters’ fears are unfounded. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "Why Hong Kongers Are Toppling Lampposts," 30 Aug. 2019 Google has removed seven apps from its Google Play Store that were designed for spying on employees, romantic partners, and children. Xavier Harding, Fortune, "These 7 Apps Are Android Stalkerware," 18 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The president and the spy agencies both entertain the Washington press corps by actively distrusting and demonizing the other. Jefferson Morley, The New Republic, "Democrats Are Trapped in Trump’s “Deep State” War," 16 Sep. 2019 Around the world, there are few spy agencies that inspire the level of intrigue that Israel’s Mossad does. Alejandro De La Garza, Time, "The True Story Behind the Netflix Series The Spy," 5 Sep. 2019 Hitchcock frequently returned to this formula of an ordinary guy (Robert Donat) forced to go on the run, here literally handcuffed to Madeleine Carroll, with spies and peril around every corner. Brian Lowry, CNN, "Essential movies of the 1930s and '40s, from 'King Kong' to 'The Heiress'," 15 Aug. 2019 Replete with Russian spies and comically corrupt chieftains, and in the midst of a civil war, the NRA isn’t close to the main problem anymore. Cliff Schecter, The New Republic, "Fox News Is the New NRA," 6 Aug. 2019 In a sign of how dysfunctional President Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community has become already, some senior spies and analysts say having a political ally as DNI may not make much of a difference at this point. John Walcott, Time, "Top GOP Senator Warned the White House About Trump's Choice for National Intelligence Director," 31 July 2019 Who, if anyone, would be the next Gossip Girl, after the identity of the all-knowing spy was unveiled in the 2012 series finale? De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, ""Gossip Girl" Producer Josh Schwartz on What to Expect From the HBO Reboot," 27 July 2019 This comedy tells the story of a spy sent from mainland China to Hong Kong on a mission, and is a classic of a local style of slapstick comedy known as mo lei tau. Isabella Steger, Quartzy, "Six films to watch to understand what’s happening in Hong Kong," 24 July 2019 Silva's hero, Gabriel Allon, who inhabits the bizarre but fascinating dual roles of international spy and art restorer, weighs in on Salvator Mundi early on. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "Daniel Silva's new novel features Leonardo da Vinci painting with a Dallas connection," 18 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spy.' 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 spy

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spy

Verb

Middle English spien, from Anglo-French espier, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German spehōn to spy; akin to Latin specere to look, look at, Greek skeptesthai & skopein to watch, look at, consider

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Statistics for spy

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for spy

The first known use of spy was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for spy

spy

verb
How to pronounce spy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of spy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to try secretly to get information about a country, organization, etc. : to act as a spy
: to see or notice (someone or something)

spy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of spy (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who tries secretly to get information about a country or organization for another country or organization
: someone who secretly watches the movement or actions of other people

spy

verb
\ ˈspī How to pronounce spy (audio) \
spied; spying

Kids Definition of spy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to watch secretly Agents spied on the enemy.
2 : to catch sight of : see He circled the city once, looking for a music store. Suddenly he spied one.— E. B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan

spy

noun
plural spies

Kids Definition of spy (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person who watches the movement or actions of others especially in secret
2 : a person who tries secretly to get information especially about a country or organization for another country or organization

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More from Merriam-Webster on spy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spy

Spanish Central: Translation of spy

Nglish: Translation of spy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spy for Arabic Speakers

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