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 India has been engaged in an intense debate over the government’s alleged use of spyware against domestic dissidents and opposition politicians — an accusation that Indian officials have neither confirmed nor denied. Gerry Shih, Washington Post, 2 June 2022 Paz Esteban, the first woman to hold the job, was caught up in a scandal over her agency’s use of Pegasus spyware. New York Times, 10 May 2022 The Biden administration has pledged to crack down on the use of such spyware, saying it has been used to violate human rights around the world. Sean Lyngaas, CNN, 4 Apr. 2022 Earlier this week, Spain announced that the cellphones of both Sánchez, the prime minister, and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were infected last year with Pegasus spyware. Joseph Wilson, ajc, 5 May 2022 Spanish officials said Monday that the cellphones of the prime minister and the defense minister were infected last year with Pegasus spyware that is only available to government agencies in an unauthorized operation. NBC News, 2 May 2022 Catalonia’s regional leader accused the Spanish government on Monday of spying on its citizens after a rights group said his phone and dozens more belonging to Catalan pro-independence figures had been infected with spyware used by sovereign states. Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2022 The iPhones of about a dozen State Department employees serving in Africa were hacked with spyware developed by Israeli technology firm NSO Group, CNN reported in December. Sean Lyngaas, CNN, 4 Apr. 2022 The agents reportedly handed him a USB and instructed him to insert it into his ex-wife’s computer to infect it with spyware. Time, 24 Mar. 2022 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

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The first known use of spyware was in 1994

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Last Updated

6 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spyware.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spyware. Accessed 25 Jun. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on spyware

Nglish: Translation of spyware for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spyware


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