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Recorded since 1793, borrowed from French espionnage, from Middle French espionner (to spy), from Old French espion (spy), itself probably from a Germanic source (akin to Old High German spehon (spy)), possibly via Italian spione (from spia). More at spy.


English Wikipedia has an article on:


espionage (countable and uncountable, plural espionages)

  1. The act or process of learning secret information through clandestine means.
    • 1859, George Meredith, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, Chapter 16:
      So intolerable did Heavy Benson's espionage become, that Raynham would have grown depopulated of its womankind had not Adrian interfered, who pointed out to the Baronet what a fearful arm his butler was wielding.
    • 2003 June 20, Joseph Purdy, “Totally Switched”, in Totally Spies!, season 2, episode 19, Teletoon, Marathon Media, spoken by Alexandra “Alex” (Andrea Taylor as Clover and Katie Leigh):
      What a freak show! I mean, how often do you meet a wrestling librarian?
      Yeah, about as often as you meet a high schoolgirl involved in international espionage… Okay, bad example.


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