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

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 That said, stargazers with telescopes will be able to see far more than full moons and meteors, able to peer even deeper into the cosmos to spy on the likes of nebulas and distant planets. oregonlive, 2 Jan. 2022 The movement propagated a conspiracy theory that the US government replaced all birds with drones sent to spy on its citizens. Forrester, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 So scientists have turned to 21st-century technology (high-resolution imaging and a virtual unfolding algorithm) to spy on 17th-century correspondence without opening it. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, 27 Dec. 2021 Hackers, too, have sought to exploit the pandemic response to break into US companies' computer networks and defraud or spy on those organizations. Sean Lyngaas, CNN, 21 Dec. 2021 Unbeknown to Elatr, the Emiratis had been using Pegasus to try to spy on her as far back as November 2017, according to Amnesty’s Security Lab. Dana Priest, Anchorage Daily News, 21 Dec. 2021 Unbeknown to Elatr, the Emiratis had been using Pegasus to try to spy on her as far back as November 2017, according to Amnesty’s Security Lab. Washington Post, 21 Dec. 2021 Carey traveled to Nashville to spy on Williams and Lanway, authorities allege. CBS News, 14 Dec. 2021 Investigating individual military sightings should be encouraged; uncovering whether some of these perhaps represent adversaries’ efforts to spy on America should be an obvious counterintelligence step. Jason Colavito, The New Republic, 14 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun According to these accounts, Klyushin was approached by U.S. and U.K. spy agencies in the two years before his exit from Russia and received heightened levels of security in Switzerland. Irina Reznik, Fortune, 3 Jan. 2022 But in the nearly three years since then, the spy agencies have not uncovered enough evidence to pinpoint the cause or the culprit of the health incidents. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, 24 Nov. 2021 Communications between the two countries -- including key connections between the two countries' presidential office, militaries, and spy agencies -- have long been troubled. Jake Kwon, CNN, 3 Oct. 2021 After the Cold War, the White House put the nation’s spy agencies and satellites onto the new job of environmental sleuthing, and the CIA funded a number of pioneering fire studies. BostonGlobe.com, 28 Sep. 2021 After the Cold War, the White House put the nation’s spy agencies and satellites onto the new job of environmental sleuthing, and the C.I.A. funded a number of pioneering fire studies. New York Times, 27 Sep. 2021 But just as the CIA and all the other expensively intrusive U.S. spy agencies missed the collapse of the Soviet Union, so did America’s intelligence community blunder again over the pace of the fall of Kabul. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 16 Aug. 2021 As a junior member of an international spy ring of psychics, Raz must ferret out a mole and stop the group’s old nemesis, Maligula, from settling some scores. Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2021 Like, Steve Bannon, like, the -- the Goldman Sachs thought that Jeffrey Epstein was a spy? ABC News, 24 Oct. 2021

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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Time Traveler for spy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for spy

Last Updated

9 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spy. Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on spy

Nglish: Translation of spy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spy for Arabic Speakers

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