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

According to federal laws, employers cannot keep their employees from unionizing or soliciting for a union, and cannot spy on, threaten, interrogate or bribe employees regarding unionization. Emma Keith, Detroit Free Press, "Nurses allege Beaumont Hospital is interfering with their efforts to unionize," 11 July 2019 In effect, the consumers benefit from what is also a massive surveillance system that is spying on them and enriching someone else. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "How much is your data worth?," 8 July 2019 In the 1970s, a plan was hatched to rendezvous with a comet—the same comet that Kepler spied in the sky centuries earlier. Amy Thompson, Smithsonian, "LightSail 2 Launches to Space to Soar on the Power of Sunshine," 25 June 2019 His disclosure in 1974 that the CIA had spied on antiwar activists prompted the creation of two congressional investigating committees. Scott Sherman, The New York Review of Books, "A Muckraker’s Progress," 17 June 2019 All eyes are on Russia here, as Skripal had spied on the country on behalf of the British. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Tariff Time, ECB Rates, Spy Poisoning: CEO Daily for March 8, 2018," 8 Mar. 2018 The elite Oklahoma City team regularly produced state champions and even once sent scouts to spy on rival debaters in nearby Seminole. Liz Goodwin, BostonGlobe.com, "For a young Elizabeth Warren, ‘a fire-cracker questioner,’ debate was a ticket to another life," 22 June 2019 Coach Kliff Kingsbury admitted to creating fake social media accounts to spy on his Texas Tech players. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "Morning Coffee: Kentucky football still getting no respect at all," 17 June 2019 For one, the US is currently locked in a trade war with China, and at the same time is accusing one of its biggest private companies (Huawei) of being able to spy on behalf of the Chinese government. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "DJI’s newest drone is a $499 tank meant to teach kids how to code," 12 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In addition to his recurring role on Lois & Clark, Jones also starred as the head of a spy agency on Syfy Channel’s The Invisible Man from 2000-02. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Eddie Jones, Lois & Clark and A League of Their Own character actor, dies at 84," 8 July 2019 Andrei Lugovoi, suspected of murdering former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2007 with a radioactive substance. NBC News, "Russia's Vladimir Putin: Liberalism in Europe is 'obsolete'," 28 June 2019 The canister would deploy its parachute, and high-flying spy planes would pick it up mid-air. Eric Niiler, WIRED, "Cold War Spy Photos Show How Fast Himalaya Glaciers Are Melting," 19 June 2019 Castro also defended the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his handling of a dossier compiled by a former British spy. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Julian Castro challenges Donald Trump, Fox News in Tempe town hall," 12 June 2019 McCain did not present then-FBI Director James Comey with a copy of the memos compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele until December 2016, after the election, according to a deposition from a McCain associate, David Kramer. Calvin Woodward, The Seattle Times, "AP fact check: Trump hails an exoneration not offered," 25 Mar. 2019 Last year, Putin answered a question about former Russian spy and double agent Sergei Skripal, whose poisoning in the UK has led to a deterioration in relations between the two countries. Adam Rasmi, Quartz, "What to expect from Putin’s hours-long annual Q&A with Russians," 19 June 2019 Just be aware that all those digital love notes will be shared with your boo ... and the country's spy agencies. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things to know for June 5: Trump, Parkland, Australia, Dominican Republic, meat," 5 June 2019 In 2015, however, South Korea’s spy agency speculated that he was briefly banished to a rural collective farm for reeducation. Hyung-jin Kim, The Seattle Times, "North Korea bolsters diplomatic lineup amid stalled US talks," 12 Apr. 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

16 Jul 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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