Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: espier

spy

2 verb
     
spy2 past tense and past participle spied, present participle spying, third person singular spies
1 [intransitive] to secretly collect information about an enemy country or an organization you are competing against
spy on
He was charged with spying on British military bases.
spy for
He confessed to spying for North Korea.
2 [transitive] literary to suddenly see someone or something, especially after searching for them [= spot]:
Ellen suddenly spied her friend in the crowd.

spy on somebody

phrasal verb
to watch someone secretly in order to find out what they are doing:
She sent you to spy on me, didn't she?

spy something ↔ out

phrasal verb
1 to secretly find out information about something
2

spy out the land

British English to secretly find out more information about a situation before deciding what to do

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