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1. The act of watching or observing.
2. A taking notice of something; a discovery.
3. The fact of being seen or noticed.

[Middle English espiaille, from Old French, from espier, to watch; see espy.]


1. the act or fact of being seen or discovered
2. the act of noticing
3. the act of spying upon; secret observation


(ɪˈspaɪ əl)

1. the act of spying.
2. the act of keeping watch; observation.
[1350–1400; Middle English espiaille < Middle French. See espy, -al2]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.espial - the act of detecting something; catching sight of something
discovery, find, uncovering - the act of discovering something


The act of noting, observing, or taking into account:
References in classic literature ?
Sometimes, he looked over his shoulder into the shop, which was so dark and dingy with numerous tokens of his trade, and so blackened by the smoke of a little forge, near which his 'prentice was at work, that it would have been difficult for one unused to such espials to have distinguished anything but various tools of uncouth make and shape, great bunches of rusty keys, fragments of iron, half-finished locks, and such like things, which garnished the walls and hung in clusters from the ceiling.
The bedroom-door on the staircase being unlocked, Mr Quilp slipped in, and planted himself behind the door of communication between that chamber and the sitting-room, which standing ajar to render both more airy, and having a very convenient chink (of which he had often availed himself for purposes of espial, and had indeed enlarged with his pocket-knife), enabled him not only to hear, but to see distinctly, what was passing.
The landlord of the house had not withdrawn his eye from this place of espial for five minutes, and Barney had only just returned from making the communication above related, when Fagin, in the course of his evening's business, came into the bar to inquire after some of his young pupils.
Then wisdom altered its method and spoke of espial and discovery.
But Laure refused to condescend to an act of espial which no curiosity could justify, and she consequently became the object of much reprobation.
But this careful study, the result of ten years' observation and experience, and of a long acquaintance with men and things obtained by intercourse with the various functionaries in the different ministries, would assuredly have, to those who did not see its purport and connection, an air of treachery and police espial.