Why is is espionage, not spionage?
It appears that the two roots are 'espy' and 'spy'. If you espy something, you just see or notice it. But if you spy on something (someone) you are covert. Yet somehow, the use becomes espionage. Must be a history here somewhere.
Espy is Victorian English.
Espionage is french.
Now that clears it up!
- d_r_sivaLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
1793, from Fr. espionnage, from M.Fr. espionner "to spy," from O.Fr. espion "spy," probably from a Gmc. source akin to O.H.G. spehon "spy."
Recorded since 1793, from French espionnage, from Middle French espionner (“to spy”), from Old French espion (“spy”), itself probably from a Germanic source (akin to Old High German spehon "spy"), possibly via Italian spione (from spia).
French espionnage, from espionner, to spy, from Old French espion, spy, from Old Italian spione, of Germanic origin
- John VLv 51 decade ago
'Espy' was the original word, but using 'I espy' in a spoken phrase is easily heard as 'I spy', hence the change. 'Espy' was used in Victorian English, but after that dropped out of common usage.
- Syntinen LauluLv 71 decade ago
A very simple history - it's a French word, which is why it's pronounced the way it is (no native English word ends with the sound "aajh"). The French for "spy" is "espion".