- a person employed by a government to obtain secret information or intelligence about another, usually hostile, country, especially with reference to military or naval affairs.
- a person who keeps close and secret watch on the actions and words of another or others.
- a person who seeks to obtain confidential information about the activities, plans, methods, etc., of an organization or person, especially one who is employed for this purpose by a competitor: an industrial spy.
- the act of spying.
- to observe secretively or furtively with hostile intent (often followed by on or upon).
- to act as a spy; engage in espionage.
- to be on the lookout; keep watch.
- to search for or examine something closely or carefully.
- to catch sight of suddenly; espy; descry: to spy a rare bird overhead.
- to discover or find out by observation or scrutiny (often followed by out).
- to observe (a person, place, enemy, etc.) secretively or furtively with hostile intent.
- to inspect or examine or to search or look for closely or carefully.
Origin of spy
Related Words for spydetective, investigator, agent, informer, mole, operative, examine, discover, snoop, scrutinize, lookout, sleuth, plant, patrol, observer, spook, watcher, scout, picket, emissary
Examples from the Web for spy
Contemporary Examples of spy
It is a spy series at its core, but you guys never really pull from the headlines.‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed Spills Season 6 Secrets, From Surreal Plotlines to Life Post-ISIS
January 8, 2015
And after the film premiered in Telluride, you were accused by Iran State Media of being a “Zionist” CIA spy.Jon Stewart Talks ‘Rosewater’ and the ‘Chickensh-t’ Democrats’ Midterm Massacre
November 9, 2014
“Once a spy, always a spy,” his friend responded; this was a common Soviet saying.How the Fall of the Berlin Wall Radicalized Putin
November 9, 2014
That alliance between the spy agency and the military, forged in Iraq, would forever change the way America fights wars.How the NSA Became a Killing Machine
November 9, 2014
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, my third book, changed my life and put me on bare-knuckle terms with my abilities.The Stacks: How The Berlin Wall Inspired John le Carré’s First Masterpiece
John le Carré
November 8, 2014
Historical Examples of spy
It was suggested by a plate of apples that he happened to spy on the mantel-piece.The Three Golden Apples
Then she ran away and would not play "I spy" or "Tig" any more.The Foolish Lovers
St. John G. Ervine
That the spy will fabricate his information is a mere commonplace.
A spy of that sort can afford to be more reckless than the most reckless of conspirators.
But when he was ill, he had a nurse whom I began to suspect as a spy.It Happened in Egypt
C. N. Williamson
- a person employed by a state or institution to obtain secret information from rival countries, organizations, companies, etc
- a person who keeps secret watch on others
- obsolete a close view
- (intr usually foll by on) to keep a secret or furtive watch (on)
- (intr) to engage in espionage
- (tr) to catch sight of; descry
Word Origin for spy
Word Origin and History for spy
mid-13c., from Old French espier "to spy," probably from Frankish *spehon, from Proto-Germanic *spekh- (cf. Old High German *spehon "to look out for, scout, spy," German spähen "to spy," Middle Dutch spien), the Germanic survivals of the productive PIE root *spek- "to look" (see scope (n.1)).
mid-13c., "one who spies on another," From Old French espie, probably from a Germanic source (see spy (v.)).