in the Headline:

"Defense Firm Said U.S. Spies Backed Its Bid for Pegasus Spyware Maker"

source: New York Times

seems to me U.S. Spies are same as Intelligence officers. Is that so?

  • 1
    Your citation is behind a paywall, but I suspect that the story says that U.S intelligence agencies supported the bid. Jul 11, 2022 at 12:56
  • Considering the subhead says "The American contractor L3 Harris is said to have cited support from intelligence officials for its effort to acquire NSO, the Israeli spyware company blacklisted by the Biden administration.", I would say YES. Jul 11, 2022 at 12:57
  • @JeffMorrow when I click the link, I see the head and sub head, even though I do not have an NYT subscription. Jul 11, 2022 at 21:42
  • Intelligence officers would mean military officers; intelligence officials could mean civilians and not military. In some places the difference may be small. Jul 13, 2022 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


Yes, the noun "spy" is commonly understood to mean "intelligence agents".

  • I was puzzled to see your answer downvoted, and promptly upvoted it. Seems to me to answer the question exactly. Jul 11, 2022 at 14:43
  • @RonaldSole Sometimes people downvote "good" answers to "bad" questions. I have seen this a lot on ELL. I can see why someone might have thought answers like this one encourage people to not bother researching, or, in this case, reading what they are looking at. Jul 11, 2022 at 15:05
  • I didn't downvote, but this doesn't seem correct. A "spy" is more specific than an "intelligence officer," right? In common use, I think of a "spy" as someone who has personally infiltrated the country or group being spied on and directly collects information. Whereas employees of the intelligence agency who don't do this task would be, more generally, intelligence officers.
    – cruthers
    Jul 14, 2022 at 0:24
  • @cruthers Wellll ... one could quibble. I've heard the director of the CIA referred to in news reports as "America's chief spy". I've taken that hesitantly for exactly the reason you say: He's not really a "spy" how I understand the word, but a boss over the spies. Like I wouldn't call the owner of a trucking company the "chief truck driver" if he doesn't actually drive a truck himself. On the other hand, what about someone who works in his own country, decoding and analyzing intercepted messages from an enemy? I might not call him a spy but I wouldn't be taken aback if someone else did.
    – Jay
    Jul 14, 2022 at 13:26

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