wiretap

verb
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

wiretap

noun

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The massive report, released Monday, found more than a dozen inaccuracies in the FBI’s warrant applications, effectively inflating the justification to wiretap former foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "‘No signs of life' after volcano eruption," 9 Dec. 2019 The plan comes more than a month after the Justice Department's inspector general identified 17 inaccuracies in requests to wiretap former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page in 2016 and 2017. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "FBI outlines surveillance reforms after searing rebuke from court, DOJ inspector general," 11 Jan. 2020 Now the government’s security services can wiretap and detain without judicial supervision. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Why Isn’t Macron an Illiberal Pinup?," 26 Sep. 2019 Bulger and his partner in crime, Steve Flemmi, were cited by the FBI as confidential informants whose inside intel was needed to obtain court authorization to wiretap the Boston Mafia. BostonGlobe.com, "Last week, lawyers for the Bulger family filed notice with the Justice Department that they will sue the government to get to the bottom of why the South Boston underworld leader and killer James “Whitey” Bulger was murdered in a West Virginia federal penitentiary last year.," 24 Sep. 2019 A month after Trump adviser Carter Page publicly asked then-Director James Comey for an interview to clear his name, the FBI obtained a warrant to wiretap him. Lee Smith, WSJ, "What if the FBI Had Probed Obama?," 23 Jan. 2019 Specifically, Republican lawmakers have asserted that the FBI misused a secret surveillance court to get approval to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Justice inspector general opens probe of possible surveillance abuses in Russia election case," 28 Mar. 2018 The document offers a new timeline of wiretap orders in the case based on Dawkins' request for the recordings to be thrown out because an April 7 order to wiretap his phone was missing the name of the official who authorized it. Chris White, The Courier-Journal, "Were Rick Pitino's calls with an Adidas executive recorded?," 10 Mar. 2018 The investigation began when DEA agents bought heroin from one of the men in September 2017 and a federal judge gave the agency permission to wiretap the defendants, a statement from U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Feds: Butler County heroin ring was sending drug money to Mexico," 1 Feb. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The university had him by the nape of his neck in March 2019 after Yahoo Sports published a story detailing what Wade said on an FBI wiretap to a man who had been convicted of funneling money to families of recruits. Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY, "Cheating allegations, corruption scandal don't slow men's basketball coaches' pay," 11 Mar. 2020 The court also said it had mostly accepted proposed changes by the FBI intended to prevent errors in compiling wiretap applications in the future. Dustin Volz, WSJ, "Uncertainty Mounts as Key Surveillance Powers Near Expiration," 4 Mar. 2020 According to authorities, Garcia was a target of Operation Omega Red — a massive 2016 wiretap investigation aimed at the Norteño gang — but was never charged in connection with that probe. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "East Bay homicide: Three suspects yelled out gang taunt before fatal beating, DA says," 29 July 2019 The bureau failed to provide complete information to the courts when seeking permission to wiretap a Trump associate. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "You Tell Us: Should People Use Facial Recognition?," 18 Dec. 2019 This law, with its enlargements of detention and deportation provisions for immigrants and its loosening of wiretap laws, among other measures, formalized the surveillance state. James Carroll, The New Yorker, "Lessons to Be Learned from the Afghanistan Papers," 12 Dec. 2019 In 2007, an inspector general slammed the FBI for exceeding its authority in investigations aimed at potential terrorists, including physical searches, wiretaps and data collection that had not been properly approved. Doyle Mcmanus, Twin Cities, "Doyle McManus: The FBI gets another black eye," 13 Dec. 2019 The Department of Justice’s internal watchdog, Michael Horowitz, is expected to confirm that the FBI did not place any informants inside the campaign or place any wiretaps on Trump’s phones. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "Trump, Russia and Ukraine: Five presidential conspiracy theories debunked," 10 Dec. 2019 When criminal wiretap orders end, their targets are usually notified that their privacy has been invaded. Charlie Savage, New York Times, "Court Orders F.B.I. to Fix National Security Wiretaps After Damning Report," 17 Dec. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of wiretap

Verb

1918, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun

1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wiretap

wiretap

verb
How to pronounce wiretap (audio)

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

wiretap

noun

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

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

wiretap

verb
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

wiretap

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on wiretap

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wiretap

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wiretap

Spanish Central: Translation of wiretap

Britannica English: Translation of wiretap for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wiretap

What made you want to look up wiretap? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!