spyware

noun
spy·​ware | \ ˈspī-ˌwer How to pronounce spyware (audio) \

Definition of spyware

: software that is installed in a computer or mobile device without the user's knowledge and that transmits information about the user's activities Jan should scan her computer for viruses, worms, and spyware— Kenneth Baldauf and Ralph Stair Smartphones belonging to more than three dozen journalists, human rights activists, and business executives have been infected with powerful spyware that an Israeli firm sells, purportedly to catch terrorists and criminals, The Washington Post and other publications reported.— Dan Goodin

Examples of spyware in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web According to Manhattan prosecutors, Kurson monitored her computer keystrokes in 2015 and 2016 using spyware, obtained passwords and accessed her Gmail and Facebook accounts. Arkansas Online, 17 Feb. 2022 Americans shouldn’t ever subject themselves to literal Chinese spyware. Ben Sasse, National Review, 4 Feb. 2022 The spyware does not leave a trace of who was behind a hack. Palabra, al, 28 Feb. 2022 The people familiar with the Justice Department investigation said the probe concerns allegations of unauthorized intrusions into networks and mobile devices in the United States by NSO customers using NSO technology, such as the Pegasus spyware. Craig Timberg, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Feb. 2022 Israelis mostly shrugged in July when The Washington Post and 16 media partners revealed that spyware supplied by Israel’s NSO Group had been used by governments to hack the cellphones of journalists, diplomats and activists around the world. Washington Post, 26 Jan. 2022 In the decade the spyware has been around, there have been numerous allegations of governments wrongfully using it to target dissidents and journalists. Palabra, al, 28 Feb. 2022 The decision reflected rising concerns about the use of the spyware in Israel, and could affect the corruption trial of former Prime Minister Netanyahu. New York Times, 7 Feb. 2022 Pegasus spyware is a surveillance tool sold only to governments or its agencies, primarily to fight terrorism. Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spyware.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of spyware

1994, in the meaning defined above

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best antivirus software.

Learn More About spyware

Time Traveler for spyware

Time Traveler

The first known use of spyware was in 1994

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near spyware

Spyri

spyware

sq

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for spyware

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spyware.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spyware. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on spyware

Nglish: Translation of spyware for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spyware

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!