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spy (up)on someone or something

to watch someone or something to learn secret or concealed information. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) Are you spying upon me? I wasn't spying on you! I was just trying to see who you were.
See also: spy

spy on

Secretly or furtively observe someone or something, as in The children loved spying on the grownups, or The company sent him to spy on the competitor's sales force. [Early 1600s]
See also: spy

spy on

or spy upon
To observe someone or something secretly and closely: A detective had been spying on the mayor's every move for months. The children spied upon their neighbors from the bushes along the property line.
See also: spy

spy out

1. To observe some place secretly and closely: The troops spied out the cave and decided it was safe to hide there. The explorers sent a scout into the valley to spy it out before descending.
2. To discover something by observing secretly and closely: Try to spy out what's going on on those rooftops. We followed the other teams' strategies carefully to spy them out.
See also: out, spy
References in periodicals archive ?
The targets of the massive Chinese spying efforts were mainly its own citizens who resided in the urban areas and who might tend to be "counter revolutionary elements.
The exhibition promises to be one of the biggest family attractions of the year, offering curious young minds and intrigued adults alike a unique, entertaining and educational insight into the mysterious and daring world of spying.
points out that the Times had earlier been completely uninterested when, in early March 2003, the London Observer revealed that the NSA had been spying on the delegations of the United Nations Security Council in New York.
But before I get into those, let me just point out that the President straight up lied about warrantless spying when he was running for reelection.
Regarding the Bush government's shameless spying on American citizens:
Likewise, Trumbo's intellectual fellow travelers in academe and journalism have built entire careers on denouncing spying by the FBI and CIA but are blithely unconcerned about KGB espionage.
Recently though real spies have been telling real tales about their jobs from spying past.
He is accused of accepting $600,000 in cash and untraceable diamonds, with another $800,000 deposited for him in a bank in Russia, which was part of the Soviet Union when the spying supposedly began.
Chapter two reveals the sexual surveillance in the Elizabethan court, charting the spying activities among rival courtiers as they evolved into a "recognizable political intelligence by means of the patronage system" (14).
In the words of Natan Sharansky, he "was not spying for the KGB.
Along with their workaday spying activities, might these devices be used to measure greenhouse gases, ocean temperatures, polar ice thickness, forest and desert boundaries, and more?
Spying may well be the growth industry of the 1990s.
Although I have read a number of PERSEREC's valuable and informative reports, I have yet to encounter one focused on spies and spying against the United States, other than just narrative descriptions of spying.
NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today announced its support for an effort by AT&T shareholders to force the company to disclose more about its role in the recent National Security Agency (NSA) illegal spying scandal and to tighten its policies to better protect customer privacy.
Government Remote Viewer 001 tells of the first military recruit for the government to use his abilities as a 'psychic spy' during the Cold War and beyond, following nearly twenty years of psychic spying and reissuing the classic 2002 title The Stargate Chronicles in paper.