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 out spy 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 car our spies spied has a manual transmission and a fairly traditional center console, with push-button start and buttons for the electronic parking brake. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "The Volkswagen Golf Mark 8 Is Getting a Radical Interior Redesign," 15 May 2019 Presumably that will reassure users who are concerned that hackers may be spying on them using the camera, and that also assumes that users will be able to see that the shutter is in fact physically covering the camera sensor. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "HP's EliteBook 800 G6 notebook series adds convenience, privacy features," 16 Apr. 2019 Meanwhile, Edward Snowden’s leaks showed how the NSA has been spying on Huawei for years. Sam Byford, The Verge, "China suggests Trump switch to Huawei after reports of iPhone tapping," 25 Oct. 2018 Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer, was convicted of spying for Britain before coming to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "UK couple were poisoned by same nerve agent as ex-Russian spy, police say," 2 Oct. 2018 Sergei Skripal, 66, is a former Russian intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain before coming to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap. Matt Dunham And Danica Kirka, BostonGlobe.com, "2 sickened by unknown substance near site of Russian spy’s poisoning in England," 4 July 2018 In addition, the trial of former CIA covert officer Kevin Patrick Mallory, who also is accused of spying for China, began last week in Virginia. Sophie Tatum And Ryan Browne, CNN, "WaPo: Chinese government hackers steal massive amounts of data from Navy contractor computers," 8 June 2018 Sergei Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain before coming to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap. Bloomberg.com, "Poisoned Former Spy Sergei Skripal Discharged From U.K. Hospital," 18 May 2018 Photo: George Downs/The Wall Street Journal BEIJING—Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, addressing an irritant in relations with the U.S., said that China’s government doesn’t ask companies to spy on its behalf and pledged not to do so in the future. Chun Han Wong, WSJ, "China Doesn’t and Won’t Instruct Companies to Spy, Premier Vows," 15 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The former spy chief is currently in Spain battling an extradition request from the United States on drug charges. Antonio Maria Delgado, miamiherald, "Venezuela’s former spy chief: Maduro spends thousands on Santeria sacrifices in Cuba," 4 June 2019 The reemergence of Kim Yong Chol, a powerful, hard-line former spy chief and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s counterpart in talks with the United States, underlines how opaque the North Korean regime remains to the outside world. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Leading North Korean official not purged after all, apparently," 3 June 2019 But the crowd’s astonishment at the unusual revelation quickly evaporated when the spy chief confided that the material came from a journalist’s book. Warren P. Strobel, WSJ, "Under CIA Chief Gina Haspel, an Intelligence Service Returns to the Shadows," 25 May 2019 The audience is introduced to his character through the memories of an older Joan, played by Judi Dench, as she's being questioned about her experiences with political radicals at Cambridge, and her alleged work as a KGB spy during WWII. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Watch Victoria's Tom Hughes in an Exclusive New Clip of the WWII Spy Drama Red Joan," 19 Apr. 2019 Kensington Palace revealed that Will just finished three weeks of work as a spy. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Prince William Reveals He's Gone Undercover with UK Spy Agencies," 7 Apr. 2019 The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency lashed out at the U.S. and NATO allies on Wednesday, accusing the West of provoking a new Cold War amid escalating tensions over the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in England. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Russian spy chief accuses US and UK of staging nerve attack, predicts return to ‘dark times of Cold War’," 2 Oct. 2018 Britain blames the Russian government for the March poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, who survived. BostonGlobe.com, "6 dead after attackers target presidential palace," 14 July 2018 British authorities investigating the poisoning of two people have found a bottle believed to have contained Novichok, a nerve agent that was also used against a former Russian spy and his daughter, the Metropolitan Police said Friday. NBC News, "British police determine source of nerve agent that poisoned couple," 13 July 2018

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

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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