- The definition of a spy is a person who secretly watches what people are doing.
An example of spy is Mata Hari who was employed by Germany during the first world war.
- Spy is defined as to secretly watch someone or something.
An example of to spy is hiding behind a bush and watching someone through their window.
transitive verbspied, spying
- to watch or observe closely and secretly, usually with unfriendly purpose: often with out
- to catch sight of; make out; perceive; see
Origin of spyMiddle English spien ; from Old French espier ; from Old High German spehōn, to search out, examine ; from Indo-European base an unverified form spe-, to spy, watch closely from source Classical Latin specere, to see, Sanskrit spaśati, (he) sees, Classical Greek skopein, to observe
- to watch or observe closely and secretly; specif., to act as a spy
- to make a close examination or careful inspection
- a person who keeps close and secret watch on another or others
- ☆ a person employed by a government to get secret information about or monitor the affairs, plans, armed forces, etc. of another government
- a person employed by a company, as in industry or commerce, to discover the business secrets of another company
- Now Rare an act of spying
- of or about spies or espionage
- used for purposes of military espionage: spy plane, spy satellite
nounpl. spies spies
- One who secretly collects information concerning the enemies of a government or group.
- One who secretly collects information for a business about one or more of its competitors.
- One who secretly keeps watch on another or others.
verbspied spied , spy·ing, spies spies
- To watch or observe secretly: was sent to spy out the enemy camp.
- To discover by close observation: “[They] are continually prowling about on all three decks, eager to spy out iniquities” (Herman Melville).
- To catch sight of; see: spied the ship on the horizon.
- To engage in espionage.
- To investigate or observe something, especially in secret: spying into the neighbor's activities.
Origin of spyMiddle English spie, from Old French espie, from espier, to watch, of Germanic origin; see spek- in Indo-European roots.
- A person who secretly watches and examines the actions of other individuals or organizations and gathers information on them (usually to gain an advantage).
(third-person singular simple present spies, present participle spying, simple past and past participle spied)
- (intransitive) To act as a spy.
- During the Cold War, Russia and America would each spy on each other for recon.
- To spot; to catch sight of.
- I think I can spy that hot guy coming over here.
- (intransitive) To search narrowly; to scrutinize.
- To explore; to view; inspect and examine secretly, as a country.
Middle English spien, aphetic variant of earlier espien "to espy", from Old French espier (“to spy”) (espie "a spy"), from Frankish *spehōn (“to spy”), from Proto-Germanic *spehōną (“to see, look”), from Proto-Indo-European *spek- (“to look”). Akin to Old High German spehōn, spehhōn "to scout, look out for, spy" (German spähen "to spy"), Middle Dutch spien "to spy", Dutch bespieden "to spy on".