Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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.


[es-pee] /ˈɛs pi/
James Pollard
[pol-erd] /ˈpɒl ərd/ (Show IPA),
1785–1860, U.S. meteorologist. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for espy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If danger lay there I could not espy it nor detect its presence.

    The House Under the Sea

    Sir Max Pemberton
  • There were no tall trees near behind which we could run should he espy us.

  • As soon as we were outside the door, whom should we espy there, in the large hall, just at the entrance?

    Cuore (Heart) Edmondo De Amicis
  • I've lodged them with the Capuchins, where not even a prying sunbeam can espy them.

  • “I should like to buy the squirrel, if espy will sell him,” said Phonny.

    Stuyvesant Jacob Abbott
  • They rode on rapidly, intending to go to the house and inquire for espy.

    Stuyvesant Jacob Abbott
  • No,” said the great boy; “it belongs to espy, and I am going to keep it for him.

    Stuyvesant Jacob Abbott
  • But God had ane other work to wyrk then the eyes of men could espy.

  • Now and then one could espy amongst the branches a beautiful mot-mot.

    A Glimpse at Guatemala Anne Cary Maudslay
British Dictionary definitions for espy


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 espy

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
espy 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

Nearby words for espy

Word Value for espy

Scrabble Words With Friends