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See also: Espy



From Old French espier (French épier). More at spy.



espy (third-person singular simple present espies, present participle espying, simple past and past participle espied)

  1. (transitive) To catch sight of; to see; to spot (said especially of something not easy to see)
    • May 1, 2011, Alice Rawsthron in The New York Times, Skull and Crossbones as Branding Tool
      By the turn of the 18th century, when Captain Cranby espied Wynn's skull and crossbones, the piracy trade was flourishing and ambitious pirates were becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they operated.
    • 1893, Horatio Alger, Cast Upon the Breakers Chapter 2
      "Ha!" said John, espying the open casket, "where did you get all that jewelry?"
    • 1880, Charu Chandra Mookerjee translating Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Durgesa Nandini
      Bimala looked at the direction in silence. Deep and hard breathings entered her ear, and she espied something near the road.
    to espy land
    to espy a man in a crowd
  2. (transitive) To examine and keep watch upon; to watch; to observe.
    • 17th century, Jeremy Taylor
      God is “inquisitive;” he looks for that which he fain would never find; God sets spies upon us; he looks upon us himself through the curtains of a cloud, and he sends angels to espy us in all our ways
  3. (intransitive) To look or search narrowly; to look about; to watch; to take notice; to spy.
    • 1769, King James Bible, Jeremiah 48:19
      O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, and say, What is done?


See Thesaurus:spot