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

Parly also expressed concerns about an attempt by a Russian satellite to spy on French space assets. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "To protect its satellites, France outlines ambitious space-weapons program," 25 July 2019 And earlier this year, TechCrunch published a report detailing how used an app called Research to observe every move users made on their phones in order to spy on the competition. Caitlin Kelly, WIRED, "FTC Reportedly Hits Facebook With Record $5 Billion Settlement," 12 July 2019 The raid on the home of Smethurst, the political editor of Sydney’s The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, focused on a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australian citizens, which cannot currently be done legally. Nick Perry, BostonGlobe.com, "Australian opposition calls for review of press freedom," 12 June 2019 The Sydney raid came a day after federal police searched the Canberra home of a News Corp. journalist over a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australians. Fox News, "Australian Broadcasting Corp. head concerned by police raid," 7 June 2019 One way to find out is to set up a pet cam to spy on kitty at home. Karin Brulliard, Anchorage Daily News, "Catcam videos reveal cats don’t sleep all day," 6 June 2019 The raid in a suburb of Sydney came a day after federal police searched the Canberra home of Annika Smethurst, the political editor of The Sunday Telegraph of Sydney, over a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australians. NBC News, "Police raid Australian public broadcaster over Afghan leak," 5 June 2019 This month, look for ancient bits of Halley’s comet raining down on Earth, along with a series of eye-catching planetary pairings and a chance to spy on a gorgeous swarm of stars. Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic, "Famous meteors peak, and more top stargazing events in May," 1 May 2019 In Venice, as Peter is about to buy a Black Dahlia necklace for MJ (Zendaya), the villain can be seen in the background spying on the young hero incognito. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Despite its distinction as the only public list of zero day values, Zerodium's price chart doesn't necessarily represent what zero-day buyers like law enforcement and spy agencies might actually pay for fresh hacking tools. Wired, "Why 'Zero Day' Android Hacking Now Costs More Than iOS Attacks," 3 Sep. 2019 Same with Lewerke’s scrambling under duress, which will be eliminated as opponents begin to use a spy on him again. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State's offense must show progress or risk losing fans — and a few games," 1 Sep. 2019 Also, keep your eyes and ears open: spies -- rebels, the First Order -- are everywhere. Joey Morona, cleveland.com, "Disney World’s Star Wars hotel looks out of this world... and super expensive," 26 Aug. 2019 Perfect for a jet-setting spy or a modern-day celebrity. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Sofia Richie Got a Brand New Car from Scott Disick for Her 21st Birthday," 26 Aug. 2019 Trinity is basically invisible, which makes her the perfect spy, right? Sydney Scott, Essence, "Ashley Nicole Black Is An Unforgettable Forgettable Spy," 15 Aug. 2019 In the 19th century, scores of explorers, spies, missionaries, and Buddhist devotees had tried to reach Lhasa, but only three had made it. Ailsa Ross, Longreads, "Mountains, Transcending," 9 Aug. 2019 Mr Warner’s assignment overseeing the world of spies, shadow diplomacy and cyber-espionage has allowed him to develop an unlikely skill set for a politician whose background in business has made him a voice on taxation, finance and regulation. J.s. | Richmond, The Economist, "Senator Mark Warner of Virginia appears to be heading for a third term," 1 Aug. 2019 Stories about parachuting spies, that included Kumar, did frenetic rounds of Delhi. Salman Khurshid, Quartz India, "Rumours, suspicions, fears: What Indian Muslims have battled since Independence," 26 July 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

27 Aug 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

Comments on spy

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concealment of treason or felony

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