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spy out the land

To find out about or come to understand a particular state of affairs or the way a situation exists or has developed, especially before taking any decisive or definitive action. Given the turbulent nature of this market, I think it would be prudent for us to spy out the land before we agree to invest in your company. I'm just spying out the land regarding my parents' divorce before I make any solid plans to come visit them this Christmas.
See also: land, out, spy

spy on (someone or something)

To observe someone or something in a clandestine or furtive manner, so as not to be noticed doing so. I can't believe you hired a private detective to spy on me—do you really distrust me that much? I was sent to spy on the foreign ambassador during his time in Washington.
See also: on, spy

spy out

1. To observe or investigate something or some place very closely or carefully in order to discover something or glean some information. A noun or pronoun can be used between "spy" and "out." We sent our best agents to spy the enemy encampment out in order to find a weak spot. I've been spying out some land to the west of town that could be suitable for our farm.
2. To discover something or glean some information as a result of close, careful observation. A noun or pronoun can be used between "spy" and "out." I've been sent to spy out what goes on behind closed doors at this factory. We so far haven't been able to spy any motive out for the attack.
See also: out, spy

ˌspy out the ˈland

find out about a situation, a place, an organization, etc. before you make a decision: The manager is sending Mark to Iceland to spy out the land. He wants to know whether we can do business there.
See also: land, out, 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 ?
After their tests on the lung cancer antibody team, the group applied their new knowledge, along with a more finely honed method, to a variety of antibody pairings, "creating 27 more that involved the co-culture of both strains, which eliminated the assembly/ redox," says Spiess.
Spiess, a heavy drinker with a criminal record who admitted his offences, scared the girl, now 27, into lying that he was the grandfather of her children.
Spiess, a New York City-based conceptual land use artist, is participating in an exhibition called "Green Horizons" that will run from June 9 to Dec.
Incumbents Paul Kierig and Joe Skurla are facing challengers Christine Mena, Caroline Milne and Randall (Randy) Spiess. As of press time, Kierig and Spiess had not submitted photos.
Jamal Fyfield should have made it three, forcing Spiess into a wonderful save from point blank range.
Subs: Spiess, Wroe, Traore, Whitehouse, Bishop, Cranston.
Manager Shaun Derry - who will choose between veteran Kevin Pilkington and youngster Fabian Spiess to replace Carrol - says he could potentially be without "seven or eight" players against the Sky Blues but insisted: "We're not going to make excuses - whatever is put in front of us we'll attack it - just like we have done every other game this season."
Bjorn Sigurdarson and Kevin Foley skied their efforts from 12 yards before James Henry's was saved by Fabian Spiess and, 25 years after lifting the Sherpa Van Trophy, hopes of a Wembley return were dashed.
Subs (not used): Thompson, Spiess, Tempest, Nangle.
LEYTON ORIENT 2 Mooney 65, Baudry 68 NOTTS COUNTY 1 Hughes 78 FABIAN SPIESS' heroics were not enough to preserve Notts County's proud away record.
04 Zurich-based photographer Georg Aerni's debut monograph SITES & SIGNS (Scheidegger & Spiess) subtly explores environmental transformations in areas both urban and rural, from a Hong Kong skyscraper to a Swiss golf course.
It appears the decision to gag Wales was taken by Giangiorgio Spiess, the Swiss member of the Uefa executive who will chair Friday's appeal hearing.
Tenders are invited forservicing and over hauling of blower, spiess valve, and air lock feeder ,dlf, replacement of nozzles, maintenance of seal box & fabrication & erection of plate in fbhes,taph cleaning as & when required and a.O.H in kltps unit # 04.
Spiess: Ensure community values remain as we move into the future.