- 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 spyingsurveillance, espionage, observing, prying, bugging, voyeurism, espial, following, wiretapping
Examples from the Web for spying
Contemporary Examples of spying
Trust us, the Obama administration said, about spying on Americans and restarting the economy through “shovel-ready” programs.The Sane Case for Auditing the Fed
October 2, 2014
The rebels suspected that Budik, a Georgian citizen, might be spying for a foreign intelligence service.A Torture Survivor on Ukraine's Tortured Ceasefire
September 11, 2014
Here is a photo that quite possibly captured a young Putin spying on President Reagan in 1988.How the Actor Donatas Banionis Inspired Vladimir Putin to Become a Spy
September 5, 2014
The spying scandal ripping Germany and the U.S. apart has deep roots.One Big Reason The CIA Spied on Germany: Worries About Russian Moles in Berlin
July 12, 2014
A number of things bother me about the latest revelations about CIA spying in Germany.The CIA in Germany: A Secret History
July 10, 2014
Historical Examples of spying
That's the only incentive you can suggest for spying, unconnected with my affairs?It Happened in Egypt
C. N. Williamson
I congratulate you on the success of your first attempt at spying.The Dare Boys of 1776
Stephen Angus Cox
I suppose Tris Penrose has been spying me and telling tales to father and you.A Singer from the Sea
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
She passed quickly by, so as not to seem to be spying on them.L'Assommoir
Whereupon I turned to the spying friar and said; 'Hand me your robe and cowl.'Chit-Chat; Nirvana; The Searchlight
Mathew Joseph Holt
- 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 spying
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.)).