Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably


[ih-spahy] /ɪˈspaɪ/
verb (used with object), espied, espying.
to see at a distance; catch sight of.
Origin of espy
1175-1225; Middle English espyen < Old French espierGermanic; compare German spähen to spy
Related forms
unespied, adjective
discern, descry, discover, perceive, make out. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for espied
Historical Examples
  • It was not until he was close at hand that Herbert espied him.

    Do and Dare Horatio Alger, Jr.
  • Not far from Fort Marshal I espied a cheerful looking house.

    Between the Lines Henry Bascom Smith
  • Here they remained cooped up for an hour, when they espied an officer who knew them, and who had them released.

  • Mrs. Forbes espied the child in the distance, and was at the door when she came in.

    Jewel Clara Louise Burnham
  • The Saint George now sailed for the northward, and, to the great joy of the crew, espied the Manilla galleon.

    Notable Voyagers W.H.G. Kingston and Henry Frith
  • As the Chinese boy got her things together Jane espied the bookstall.

    The Pagan Madonna Harold MacGrath
  • Therewith the king and all espied where came riding down the river a lady on a white palfrey toward them.

  • When we got to the top of the street, and turned north, we espied a crowd at the Tron Church.

    Spare Hours John Brown
  • The young man, on acting as directed, espied the spirits, and gave the letter to the one for which it was intended.

  • A moment later he espied Captain Jules coming toward him, alone!

    Madge Morton's Victory Amy D.V. Chalmers
British Dictionary definitions for espied


verb -pies, -pying, -pied
(transitive) to catch sight of or perceive (something distant or previously unnoticed); detect: to espy a ship on the horizon
Derived Forms
espier, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French espier to spy, of Germanic origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for espied



early 13c., aspy, from Old French espier (12c., Modern French épier), from Vulgar Latin *spiare, from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German spehon "to spy;" see spy). Related: Espied. For initial e-, see especial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
espied in Science
American meteorologist who is credited with the first correct explanation of the role heat plays in cloud formation and growth. His use of the telegraph in relaying meteorological observations and tracking storms laid the foundation for modern weather forecasting.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for espy

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for espied

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for espied