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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 An inspector general's report found several errors, omissions and misstatements in the FBI's warrant applications to wiretap Carter Page in 2016 and 2017. Kristine Phillips, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2020 Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham unveiled a letter from the Justice Department lawyer who signed off on all the surveillance warrant applications seeking court authority to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, 30 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Valencia is the ex-girlfriend of Barrera-Palma, the leader of Mendota’s MS-13 clique, and the two have a child together, agents wrote in a wiretap application filed in court. Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times, 26 Aug. 2021 In 2019, the inspector general severely criticized the bureau for making many errors and omissions in a series of wiretap applications used in the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation. New York Times, 14 July 2021 Smith shared an Instagram message to friends showing the loan application which was intercepted by a wiretap obtained by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the agreement said. David Harris, orlandosentinel.com, 13 July 2021 Few people at the state level can apply for a wiretap — state’s attorneys, the attorney general and the state prosecutor. James Whitlow, baltimoresun.com, 8 June 2021 The massive wiretap operation revealed a litany of criminal schemes, authorities said, and resulted in numerous coordinated raids in Europe. San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 June 2021 Defense lawyer Kevin Sali sought to suppress wiretap evidence against his client in a Hillsboro homicide case. oregonlive, 7 Apr. 2021 But over the wiretap, Jensen was hearing a different sequence of events play out. Justin Fenton, baltimoresun.com, 19 Feb. 2021 Modine and the actors who play the rich and famous recite lines from wiretap transcripts, although the filmmakers say some have been edited for length and clarity. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of wiretap


1918, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for wiretap

Time Traveler

The first known use of wiretap was in 1907

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Dictionary Entries Near wiretap

wire-tailed bird of paradise



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Statistics for wiretap

Last Updated

12 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wiretap.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wiretap. Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for wiretap



English Language Learners Definition of wiretap

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to place a device on (someone's phone) in order to secretly listen to telephone calls : tap



English Language Learners Definition of wiretap (Entry 2 of 2)

: a device that allows someone to secretly listen to phone conversations : tap
: a conversation that has been recorded using a 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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