wire·​tap | \ ˈwī(-ə)r-ˌtap How to pronounce wiretap (audio) \
wiretapped; wiretapping; wiretaps

Definition of wiretap

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to tap a telephone or telegraph wire or cellular signal in order to get information

transitive verb

: to tap the telephone of



Definition of wiretap (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of wiretapping
2 : an electrical connection for wiretapping

Examples of wiretap in a Sentence

Verb The FBI wiretapped his phone. Noun Federal agents put a wiretap on his phone. Investigators listened to the wiretaps for clues about the suspect's whereabouts.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The claim: Jerry Zeifman fired Hillary Clinton during the Watergate scandal On June 17, 1972, five burglars were arrested at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex for attempting to wiretap office communications. Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY, 30 Mar. 2022 Growing more suspicious, detectives obtained a court order to wiretap his phone. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, 9 Dec. 2021 Prosecutors tried to hold Facebook in contempt after the company refused to help investigators wiretap its Messenger app, but a judge ruled against them. Justin Fenton, baltimoresun.com, 9 Aug. 2021 The surveillance court in December 2019 also blasted the FBI for misleading judges by cherry-picking facts presented them in requesting to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in its Russian investigation. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2021 No, the museum is not planning to wiretap patrons to find out what’s in their cellphones. Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2021 Cohen-Watnick was previously involved in attempts to back Trump’s false claims that his White House predecessor, Barack Obama, sought to wiretap Trump. Ron Kampeas, sun-sentinel.com, 23 Dec. 2020 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications seeking the authority to wiretap onetime Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, 11 Dec. 2020 Priebus asked, referring to a top-secret warrant to wiretap an American citizen suspected of being a spy for a foreign government. NBC news, 13 Feb. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Among the many Soviet-era relics housed in the museum are wiretap recordings, propaganda asking citizens to inform on each other, and testimonies from dozens of former Stasi agents who were forced to spy for the institution. Laura Parker, Forbes, 18 May 2022 Madigan asked McClain on the call, which was recorded via an FBI wiretap on McClain’s cellphone. Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, 24 May 2022 But within two days, the investigation was halted and no disciplinary action was taken because the city’s outside law firm determined that the recording was made in violation of the state’s wiretap statute, city officials said. Stephanie Ebbert, BostonGlobe.com, 13 May 2022 In court documents, prosecutors pointed to a phone conversation between Wilson and Singer caught on an FBI wiretap. NBC News, 26 Apr. 2022 Also crucial to the charges is Fidel Marquez, the former vice president of governmental affairs for ComEd, who also recorded conversations for the FBI during the investigation, which in turn helped prosecutors secure a wiretap on McClain’s phone. Ray Long, chicagotribune.com, 6 Mar. 2022 The unexplained transactions totaled $300,000 over seven years, according to an F.B.I. agent’s affidavit seeking a wiretap. New York Times, 27 Jan. 2022 The day before, a judge had approved an F.B.I. wiretap application that named him as a target. New York Times, 27 Jan. 2022 The motion by prosecutors also described for the first time some of the investigative steps taken — and rejected — before prosecutors first applied for a wiretap on the alderman’s phones in 2017. Annie Sweeney, chicagotribune.com, 8 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of wiretap


1918, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1

More Definitions for wiretap


wire·​tap | \ ˈwīr-ˌtap How to pronounce wiretap (audio) \
wiretapped; wiretapping

Legal Definition of wiretap

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to engage in wiretapping had probable cause to wiretap

transitive verb

: to interpret through wiretapping a wiretapped telephone conversation also : to connect to the telephone line of for the purpose of wiretapping wiretapped her home — compare bug, eavesdrop



Legal Definition of wiretap (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of wiretapping we have held previously that wiretaps are a form of a searchWhack v. State, 615 A.2d 1226 (1992)
2 : an electrical connection for wiretapping — compare pen register

More from Merriam-Webster on wiretap

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wiretap

Britannica English: Translation of wiretap for Arabic Speakers


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