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 dogs were shown the videos while laying still inside an MRI, allowing scientists to spy on their brain activity, reports Laura Sanders for Science News. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Dog Brains Don’t Appear to Pay Special Attention to Faces," 7 Oct. 2020 No one can say why the Chinese government might want to spy on 16- to 24-year-olds who watch twerking routines. Andy Kessler, WSJ, "TikTok Meets the Meddling Feds," 4 Oct. 2020 SeaWorld Orlando visitors can now spy the baby dolphin born at the theme park last week. Dewayne Bevil, orlandosentinel.com, "SeaWorld: Baby dolphin born in front of theme-park visitors," 6 Oct. 2020 The justices, in arguments by telephone, wrestled with whether the men can seek to hold the FBI agents financially liable under a 1993 religious freedom law for trying to persuade the men to spy on other Muslims. Mark Sherman, Star Tribune, "Supreme Court wrestles with Muslims' suit over no-fly list," 6 Oct. 2020 There’s a popular piece of land located on the Fairhaven campus that motorists can spy when driving along Obrecht Road in Sykesville, and it’s where Samuel Patsy and some of his friends spend quite a bit of time on most days. Pat Stoetzer, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Gardeners at Fairhaven in Sykesville find ‘therapy’ in growing, donating vegetables," 3 Oct. 2020 But in an open letter to the U.S. intelligence community, two U.S. senators summed up their fears in clear terms: The Chinese government could still force TikTok to hand over our personal information and use it to spy on us. Leslie Gornstein, CBS News, "What is TikTok? And what does President Trump have to do with it?," 1 Oct. 2020 Susanna, a virtuous, beautiful young woman, is bathing in her garden while two older men spy on her. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "A Fuller Picture of Artemisia Gentileschi," 28 Sep. 2020 Use video doorbells to ward off porch pirates and document cute animals that wandered into your yard—not to spy on your only mildly sinful neighbors. Alex Schmidt, WSJ, "Beyond Zoom Etiquette: 21 Rules for Using Tech Now," 3 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The indictment adds an entirely new allegation against Fasold, 50, who has been jailed since early March when he was accused of hiding spy cameras at Plainville High School’s locker room and in his home bathroom to film underage girls. Don Stacom, courant.com, "New child pornography charges filed against former Plainville swim team volunteer," 16 Oct. 2020 According to the administration, WeChat’s owner, Tencent Holdings Ltd., is intertwined with the Chinese Communist Party, which can use the app to collect users’ data and spy on them. Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg.com, "WeChat Judge Unlikely to Let Ban Go Forward Amid U.S. Appeal," 15 Oct. 2020 Macintyre delivers this immensely exciting, fast-moving account in the calm, engaging voice of a connoisseur of spy craft. Washington Post, "For your pandemic playlist: 3 new audiobooks that will whisk you away — for a few hours, anyway," 14 Oct. 2020 But something did change: Christopher Metsos, the spy handler, disappeared. CBS News, "Russian spies living among us: Inside the FBI's "Operation Ghost Stories"," 13 Oct. 2020 The book’s coverage of the spy trial should have been a high point but is instead cursory and anticlimactic. Bertrand M. Patenaude, WSJ, "‘The Nazi Spy Ring in America’ Review: Hoover Was Furious," 8 Oct. 2020 The spy boat also has the Wave Rider’s telltale set of three black, stubby antennas, likely for satellite communications, payload telemetry, and GPS. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "American-Made Spy Boat on Secret Mission Washes Up in Scotland," 8 Oct. 2020 Shortly after, the cast for the project was released; Chastain would star, joined by Lupita Nyong'o, Penélope Cruz, and Fan Bingbing for the epic spy movie. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "The 355 Trailer Is Full Of Diamonds, Bullets & Fierce Women — Yes, Please," 7 Oct. 2020 Jeep is hard at work preparing the new Grand Wagoneer for its arrival at dealerships next year, as proven by these spy photos of a prototype. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Spied in Production Form," 6 Oct. 2020

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

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spy. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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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

Nglish: Translation of spy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on spy

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