spy

verb
\ˈspī \
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

According to a report by Netlab 360's Genshen Ye, more than 7,500 of them are actively being spied on by attackers, who are actively forwarding full captures of their network traffic to a number of remote servers. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Unpatched routers being used to build vast proxy army, spy on networks," 5 Sep. 2018 Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Trump says FISA files show 'Fake Dirty Dossier' started Mueller 'Witch Hunt'," 23 July 2018 Sanders’ mother said her daughter was obsessed with the Illuminati, was unstable and used a baby monitor to spy on her neighbors, Associated Press said. Crystal Hill, miamiherald, "Mom set up a P.O. box to get ‘fan mail’ before killing her 2 young sons, Mass. prosecutors say | Miami Herald," 10 Apr. 2018 Researchers have demonstrated how hackers could use it to spy on users' conversations — not something any student wants in the privacy of their dorm room. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "St. Louis University Installs Amazon Echo Dots in Dorm Rooms," 16 Aug. 2018 Its already controversial when deployed by governments: The United Arab Emirates reportedly tried to use it to spy on a pro-democracy activist in 2016. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Spyware theft case offers a cautionary tale for encryption debate," 6 July 2018 Don’t trust public Wi-Fi Crooks use public Wi-Fi to spy on unsuspecting users who join the network. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "10 insider tricks to keep hackers and scammers from stealing from you," 22 June 2018 Intel officials have said the Chinese government may be using its telecommunications firms to spy. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Vox Sentences: The curious case of Trump and ZTE," 16 May 2018 This concern is particularly acute with virtual machines: if two virtual machines share a physical core, then the virtual machine using one logical core can potentially spy on the virtual machine using the other logical core. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Intel’s SGX blown wide open by, you guessed it, a speculative execution attack," 14 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In other words, officials are worried that Huawei will help the Chinese government spy on or attack the US. Emily Stewart, Vox, "The US government’s ongoing battle with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, explained," 11 Dec. 2018 Image: ULA Tonight, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) is set to launch its most powerful rocket — the Delta IV Heavy — sending up a secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from California. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Stay up late to watch ULA launch a secret satellite with its most powerful rocket," 7 Dec. 2018 Veronica Mars Name a better teen spy who also has a talent for delivering savage comebacks. Seventeen, "The 20 Greatest TV Teen Dramas of All Time," 4 Dec. 2018 Among those spies was FBI agent turned Soviet mole Robert Hanssen. Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, "Paul Manafort moves to Alexandria jail, a past home to spies and terrorists," 12 July 2018 Despite the unconcerned reaction from the British spy agency, American lawmakers are getting fired up over the reporting; some are even calling for an outright investigation. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "British spy agency casts more doubt on spy chip report," 5 Oct. 2018 Russia’s retaliation comes days after British Prime Minister announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats following the suspicious poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4. Fox News, "Russia retaliates, expels 23 British diplomats amid tensions over ex-spy poisoning," 2 Oct. 2018 Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned last March by the military-grade nerve agent Novichok. Madeleine Ngo, Vox, "A top Republican rebuked Trump for missing his deadline to hit Russia with sanctions," 26 July 2018 Police have said the working theory is that their exposure was linked to the earlier Novichok attack in March on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury. NBC News, "U.K. man exposed to Novichok is now conscious," 10 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

17 Dec 2018

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 \
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

Comments on spy

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