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[es-pee-uh-nahzh, -nij, es-pee-uh-nahzh] /ˈɛs pi əˌnɑʒ, -nɪdʒ, ˌɛs pi əˈnɑʒ/
the act or practice of spying.
the use of spies by a government to discover the military and political secrets of other nations.
the use of spies by a corporation or the like to acquire the plans, technical knowledge, etc., of a competitor:
industrial espionage.
Origin of espionage
1785-95; < French espionnage, Middle French espionage, equivalent to espionn(er) to spy (derivative of espion spy < Italian spione < Germanic; akin to German spähen to look out) + -age -age
Related forms
nonespionage, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for espionage
  • In fact, the spies were not even successful enough to have espionage charges brought against them.
  • The game modes would have a sort of espionage theme that would be reflected in the type of modes that you play.
  • It seems to have been quite a departure from your espionage novels.
  • Over the last 12 months, my professional life has had more action than an espionage thriller.
  • He was arrested for espionage.
  • This real-life spy thriller unveils a major chapter in Soviet espionage.
  • It is difficult to provide evidence of espionage, given its secretive manner.
  • Country hopping and border crossings are a classic espionage novel device, but Cumming makes it all feel fresh.
  • The jury was unable to reach a verdict on an eighth espionage count.
  • Then, just as he's in the midst of doing so, he's nabbed and charged with espionage.
British Dictionary definitions for espionage


/ˈɛspɪəˌnɑːʒ; ˌɛspɪəˈnɑːʒ; ˈɛspɪənɪdʒ/
the systematic use of spies to obtain secret information, esp by governments to discover military or political secrets
the act or practice of spying
Word Origin
C18: from French espionnage, from espionner to spy, from espion spy, from Old Italian spione, of Germanic origin; compare German spähen to spy
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
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Word Origin and History for espionage

1793, from French espionnage "spying," from Middle French espionner "to spy," from Old French espion "spy," probably via Italian spione from a Germanic source akin to Old High German spehon "spy" (see spy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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