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eavesdrop

[eevz-drop]
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verb (used without object), eaves·dropped, eaves·drop·ping.
  1. to listen secretly to a private conversation.
verb (used with object), eaves·dropped, eaves·drop·ping.
  1. Archaic. to eavesdrop on.
noun Also eaves·drip [eevz-drip] /ˈivzˌdrɪp/.
  1. water that drips from the eaves.
  2. the ground on which such water falls.

Origin of eavesdrop

before 900; (noun) Middle English evesdrope, evesdripe, Old English yfesdrype; as v., probably back formation from eavesdropper, late Middle English evisdroppyr, apparently literally, one who stands on the eavesdrop in order to listen to conversations inside the house; see eave, drop, drip
Related formseaves·drop·per, nounan·ti·eaves·drop·ping, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for eaves-dropping

Historical Examples

  • Just at this juncture, the eaves-dropping by-stander who furnishes the mem.

    The Knickerbocker, Vol. 10, No. 6, December 1837

    Various

  • We don't interfere; there is no eaves-dropping, or prying behind the curtain.

  • If we are going to talk of these things we had better go where there is no chance of eaves-dropping.

    The Threatening Eye

    Edward Frederick Knight

  • Eaves-dropping has been universally condemned, and "listeners," they say, "never hear good of themselves."

  • It never occurred to her that she was eaves-dropping, and even if it had, she would not have felt greatly ashamed.

    The Rebellion of Margaret

    Geraldine Mockler


British Dictionary definitions for eaves-dropping

eavesdrop

verb -drops, -dropping or -dropped
  1. (intr) to listen secretly to the private conversation of others
Derived Formseavesdropper, noun

Word Origin

C17: back formation from earlier evesdropper, from Old English yfesdrype water dripping from the eaves; see eaves, drop; compare Old Norse upsardropi
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for eaves-dropping

eavesdrop

v.

c.1600, probably a back-formation from eavesdropper. Related: Eavesdropping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper