wiretap

1 of 2

verb

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

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to tap the telephone of

wiretap

2 of 2

noun

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 car was rented under Blanchard’s name, which allowed detectives the access to wiretap his phone and track his every move. Time, 13 July 2023 Despite the technology’s potential for good, of course, there is a clear Orwellian thread in the idea of a future where bad actors can wiretap your brain. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 26 May 2023 There were real-world flaws with the Russia investigation, especially how the F.B.I. botched applications to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser. Charlie Savage, New York Times, 17 May 2023 The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, issued a scathing report in December 2019 that criticized how the FBI won court orders to wiretap Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 20 Jan. 2023 Steele's dossier, which was funded by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was used by the FBI to convince a court to authorize a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in October 2016. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, 26 Sep. 2020 In the wake of Robert’s murder, detectives decided to wiretap Sabrina and Hearn’s phones. Amanda Karrh, ABC News, 7 Apr. 2023 Those include pejorative text messages about Trump sent by former FBI employees who were involved in the Russia investigation, mistakes and omissions in applications to secretly wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser and the FBI questioning of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Eric Tucker and Mary Clare Jalonick, Star Tribune, 10 Nov. 2020 An informant told Bolles that he was paid to wiretap his home phone. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, 11 Feb. 2023
Noun
Along with wiretaps of Johnson and others’ phones and social media accounts, investigators installed a covert video camera in a car associated with a crew member. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 13 Feb. 2024 McGrath also was charged with theft, misconduct in office and violating Maryland’s wiretap laws by recording private calls with Hogan and other officials without their permission. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2023 The program, created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, allows the government to conduct wiretaps on foreign targets outside the United States. Karoun Demirjian, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2023 Los Angeles Police Department officers used informants and a wiretap to seize modest amounts of guns, narcotics and money from members of Huerta’s old gang, Eastside Wilmas, according to a 14-page summary of the probe. Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times, 26 Dec. 2023 He was castigated for authorizing telephone wiretaps of reporters and his own National Security Council staff to plug news leaks in Nixon’s White House. Nancy Benac, Fortune, 30 Nov. 2023 He was castigated for authorizing telephone wiretaps of reporters and his own National Security Council staff to plug news leaks in Mr. Nixon’s White House. Nancy Benac, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Nov. 2023 Police use of wiretaps became limited by the Crime Control Act of 1968, which regulated warrants for them. Mitchell S. Jackson, New York Times, 20 Dec. 2023 In October 2013, Escobedo was caught on a wiretap speaking with Guzman Salazar about smuggling more than five tons of marijuana through a tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border, Braverman said. Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times, 25 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wiretap.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Verb

1918, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun

1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wiretap was in 1907

Dictionary Entries Near wiretap

Cite this Entry

“Wiretap.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wiretap. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

wiretap

1 of 2 verb
wire·​tap ˈwī(ə)r-ˌtap How to pronounce wiretap (audio)
: to tap a telephone or telegraph wire to get information
wiretapper noun

wiretap

2 of 2 noun
: the act or an instance of wiretapping

Legal Definition

wiretap

1 of 2 verb
wire·​tap ˈwīr-ˌtap How to pronounce wiretap (audio)
wiretapped; wiretapping

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

wiretap

2 of 2 noun
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

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