What does espionage mean?

Definitions for espionage
ˈɛs pi əˌnɑʒ, -nɪdʒ, ˌɛs pi əˈnɑʒes·pi·onage

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word espionage.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. espionagenoun

    the systematic use of spies to get military or political secrets


  1. espionagenoun

    The act or process of learning secret information through clandestine means.

  2. Etymology: Recorded since 1793, from espionnage, from espionner, from espion, itself probably from a source (akin to spehon "spy"), possibly via spione (from spia). More at spy


  1. Espionage

    Espionage, spying, or intelligence gathering is the act of obtaining secret or confidential information (intelligence). A person who commits espionage is called an espionage agent or spy. Any individual or spy ring (a cooperating group of spies), in the service of a government, company, criminal organization, or independent operation, can commit espionage. The practice is clandestine, as it is by definition unwelcome. In some circumstances, it may be a legal tool of law enforcement and in others, it may be illegal and punishable by law. Espionage is often part of an institutional effort by a government or commercial concern. However, the term tends to be associated with state spying on potential or actual enemies for military purposes. Spying involving corporations is known as industrial espionage. One way to gather data and information about a targeted organization is by infiltrating its ranks. Spies can then return information such as the size and strength of enemy forces. They can also find dissidents within the organization and influence them to provide further information or to defect. In times of crisis, spies steal technology and sabotage the enemy in various ways. Counterintelligence is the practice of thwarting enemy espionage and intelligence-gathering. Almost all sovereign states have strict laws concerning espionage, including those who practise espionage in other countries, and the penalties for being caught are often severe.


  1. espionage

    Espionage is the activity of secretly gathering, acquiring or distributing sensitive or classified information or intelligence for personal, commercial, political or military advantages, often conducted by governments to gain beneficial strategic, political or military information about foreign states. It is often considered illegal or unethical.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Espionagenoun

    the practice or employment of spies; the practice of watching the words and conduct of others, to make discoveries, as spies or secret emissaries; secret watching

  2. Etymology: [F. espionnage, fr. espionner to spy, fr. espion spy, OF. espie. See Espy.]


  1. Espionage

    Espionage or spying involves a government or individual obtaining information considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, as it is taken for granted that it is unwelcome and, in many cases illegal and punishable by law. It is a subset of intelligence gathering, which otherwise may be conducted from public sources and using perfectly legal and ethical means. It is crucial to distinguish espionage from intelligence gathering, as the latter does not necessarily involve espionage, but often collates open-source information. Espionage is often part of an institutional effort by a government or commercial concern, however the term is generally associated with state spying on potential or actual enemies primarily for military purposes. Spying involving corporations is known as industrial espionage. One of the most effective ways to gather data and information about an enemy is by infiltrating the enemy's ranks. This is the job of the spy. Spies can bring back all sorts of information concerning the size and strength of an enemy army. They can also find dissidents within the enemy's forces and influence them to defect. In times of crisis, spies can also be used to steal technology and to sabotage the enemy in various ways. Counterintelligence operatives can feed false information to enemy spies, protecting important domestic secrets and preventing attempts at subversion. Nearly every country has very strict laws concerning espionage, and the penalty for being caught is often severe. However, the benefits that can be gained through espionage are generally great enough that most governments and many large corporations make use of it to varying degrees.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Espionage

    es′pi-on-āj, n. practice or employment of spies. [Fr.,—espionnerespion, a spy.]

Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms

  1. espionage

    The act of obtaining, delivering, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defense with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation. Espionage is a violation of 18 United States Code 792-798 and Article 106, Uniform Code of Military Justice. See also counterintelligence.

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of espionage in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of espionage in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of espionage in a Sentence

  1. Abdy Pereira:

    The government attempted to link them to (espionage activities) but there was no evidence that this was the case.

  2. Tony Schiena:

    It is a great time for spies to operate so advantage can be taken in older traditional forms of espionage, as well as the creation of highly sophisticated platforms of communication for continuous communication and the delivery of information.

  3. Paul Whelan:

    Why was I left behind ? While I am pleased Trevor is home with his family, I have been held on a fictitious charge of espionage for 40 months, the world knows this charge was fabricated. Why hasn't more been done to secure my release ?

  4. Joshua Meservey:

    My sense is that African rulers do not believe there is anything so valuable that it is worth risking the relationship with China. Some African rulers also personally benefit from engaging with Chinaswanky government buildings are just one examplewhich influences Some African rulers also towards being less wary of Chinese espionage than Some African rulers also might otherwise be.

  5. James Lewis:

    It’s not that we know TikTok has done something, it’s that distrust of China and awareness of Chinese espionage has increased, the context for TikTok is much worse as trust in China vanishes.

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Translations for espionage

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"espionage." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/espionage>.

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