spy

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English spien, aphetic variant of earlier espien "to espy", from Old French espier (to spy) (espie "a spy"), from Frankish *spehōn (to spy) (possibly through a Vulgar Latin *spiāre), 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".

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

spy (plural spies)

  1. A person who secretly watches and examines the actions of other individuals or organizations and gathers information on them (usually to gain an advantage).
    • 2013 June 29, “Travels and travails”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 55: 
      Even without hovering drones, a lurking assassin, a thumping score and a denouement, the real-life story of Edward Snowden, a rogue spy on the run, could be straight out of the cinema. But, as with Hollywood, the subplots and exotic locations may distract from the real message: America’s discomfort and its foes’ glee.

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Verb[edit]

spy (third-person singular simple present spies, present participle spying, simple past and past participle spied)

  1. (intransitive) To act as a spy.
    During the Cold War, Russia and America would each spy on each other for recon.
  2. (transitive) To spot; to catch sight of.
    I think I can spy that hot guy coming over here.
    • Jonathan Swift
      One in reading, skipped over all sentences where he spied a note of admiration.
    • Latimer
      Look about with your eyes; spy what things are to be reformed in the church of England.
  3. (intransitive) To search narrowly; to scrutinize.
    • Shakespeare
      It is my nature's plague / To spy into abuses.
  4. (transitive) To explore; to view; inspect and examine secretly, as a country.
    • Bible, Numbers xxi. 32
      Moses sent to spy Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof.

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Norwegian Bokmål[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old Norse spýja, from Proto-Germanic *spīwaną, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ptyēw- (to spit, vomit). Compare Swedish and Danish spy, Icelandic spýja, English spew, Dutch spuwen, German speien.

Noun[edit]

spy n (definite singular spyet; uncountable)

  1. barf, vomit

Verb[edit]

spy (present tense spyr; past tense spydde; past participle spydd)

  1. barf, throw up, vomit

Swedish[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old Norse spýja, from Proto-Germanic *spīwaną, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ptyēw- (to spit, vomit). Compare Norwegian and Danish spy, Icelandic spýja, English spew, Dutch spuwen, German speien.

Verb[edit]

spy

  1. to throw up, to vomit

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