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

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Let us hope that Eavesdrop will sketch off Henbane, and that Henbane will poison him for his trouble.

    Crotchet Castle

    Thomas Love Peacock

  • With no desire to eavesdrop, Mr. Green could not avoid overhearing the conversation.

  • So I judged I'd got to do the other thing—lay for them and eavesdrop.

    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Complete

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • I said to him, 'It won't do, daddy, for you to eavesdrop at our doors.

    A Family of Noblemen

    Mikhal Saltykov

  • "You'd think there were better things to eavesdrop on than fishes," said Urson.

    The Jewels of Aptor

    Samuel R. Delany

British Dictionary definitions for eavesdrop


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


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper