- 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
- to discover by careful observationto spy out a route
- to make a close scrutiny ofto spy out the land
- 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 and History for spy out
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.)).