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I spy is a guessing game usually played in families with young children, partly to assist in both observation and in alphabet familiarity. I spy is often played as a car game.

One person starts by choosing an object (a cow, for example) and says "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with C" or simply "I spy something beginning with C." The other players look around and suggest things it might be: "Crow" (no), "Car" (no), "Cloud" (no), "Cow" - yes. The person who guesses correctly often gets to choose the next object.

Often the game is played without the accumulation of points, and winning a round simply results in the initiation of further play.

When played in a car, a the group playing may need to decide beforehand what to do about items that are no longer visible (the field with the cows is a mile back - usually permitted but the person choosing the object has to say "I can't see it any more" and "I can see it now"). Sometimes items within the car are excluded.

A slightly more challenging version uses phrases - "I spy with my little eye something beginning with B A W C" for "Black and white cow". Another variation of this game is to play using colors, such as 'I spy with my little eye something that is green'.

A further variation to the game is titled 'I hear with my little ear'. It functions, as the title suggests, with sounds instead of sights.

In other countries

Spanish-speaking countries have a slight variation of the game. Instead of declaring the letter in a single phrase, Latin American countries play the following dialogue:

  • "Veo, Veo" (I see, I see)
  • "¿Qué ves?" (What do you see?)
  • "Una cosa" (A thing)
  • "¿Qué cosa?" (What thing?)
  • "Maravillosa" (Wonderful [thing])
  • "¿De qué color?" (What color?)
  • "Color, color..." (Color, color...)

The person then names the color of the object picked up. Another variation, more faithful to the original, has the person choosing a letter instead of a color.

In Spain, Europe, there's another version:

"Veo, Veo" (I see, I see) "¿Qué ves?" (What do you see?) "Una cosita" (A little thing) "¿Por qué letrita?" (What little letter does it begin with?) "Empieza con la letra... ¡B!" (It begins with... B!

In Germany, the phrase is closer to the English one: Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst, und das ist... and the color of the object is stated. Translated, it reads "I see something that you don't see, and that is..."

In The Netherlands this game is known as "Ik zie, ik zie, wat jij niet ziet, en de kleur is..." which translates to: "I see, I see, what you don't see, and the colour is.."



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Alternative spellings


I spy


I spy (uncountable)

  1. (games) A game where players have to guess what one player can see, based on the initial letter of the object.
    I spy with my little eye something beginning with W.


  • Anagrams of ipsy
  • yips


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