I spy is a guessing game. One player chooses an object that is visible to all the players and says, "I spy with my little eye something beginning with ...", naming the letter the chosen object starts with (e.g. "I spy with my little eye something beginning with C" if the chosen object is a car). Other players have to guess the chosen object. An alternative version is played where the colour is given rather than the initial letter (e.g. "I spy with my little eye something blue")
I spy is often played with young children as a means to avert boredom in long car journeys. A survey by British insurance company Direct Line found that 58% of families played I spy, and 65% of the parents consulted had played it on journeys as a child.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines it, under Spy giving the earliest citation as a mention in Rosamond Lehmann's 1946 work The Gipsy's Baby. One etymological website though reports an earlier mention in a 1937 Canadian publication.
- I-Spy, series of children's "spotter books" taking their name from the game
- "Cock Robin", a nursery rhyme that includes the phrase "my little eye"
- "Guessing games: I Spy" (pdf). Are we nearly there yet: Making the most of long car trips. Direct Line. p. 5. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- "Spy, v. 4 (d)". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 25 May 2012. (Available online to subscribers)
- "Are we there yet?". Direct Line. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- "I spy with my little eye". The Phrase Finder. Retrieved 25 May 2012. "The game isn't especially old and the first record of it that I can find is in The Winnipeg Free Press, December 1937: "Other games ... are: What is My Thought Like, I Spy With My Little Eye (children love this) and Bird, Beast, Flower or Fish.""
- "My LIttle Eye". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 May 2012.