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 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 Experts say in theory these cables could enable China to spy. Jeremy Page, WSJ, "Huawei Selling Stake in Undersea-Cable Firm as U.S. Pressure Mounts," 3 June 2019 So this is submersibles to spy ... that’s what submersibles are for? Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Chris Kirchhoff, formerly of the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley office, on Recode Decode," 31 Mar. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 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

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

2 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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