spy

[spahy]

noun, plural spies.

verb (used without object), spied, spy·ing.

verb (used with object), spied, spy·ing.


Origin of spy

1200–50; (v.) Middle English spien, aphetic variant of espien to espy; (noun) Middle English, aphetic variant of espy a spy < Old French espie
Related formsspy·ship, nounout·spy, verb (used with object), out·spied, out·spy·ing.su·per·spy, noun, plural su·per·spies.un·spied, adjectiveun·spy·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for spy on

spy

noun plural spies

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

verb spies, spying or spied

(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

C13 spien, from Old French espier, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German spehōn, Middle Dutch spien
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for spy on

spy

v.

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)).

spy

n.

mid-13c., "one who spies on another," From Old French espie, probably from a Germanic source (see spy (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with spy on

spy on

Secretly or furtively observe someone or something, as in The children loved spying on the grownups, or The company sent him to spy on the competitor's sales force. [Early 1600s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.