verb (used without object), eaves·dropped, eaves·drop·ping.

to listen secretly to a private conversation.

verb (used with object), eaves·dropped, eaves·drop·ping.

Archaic. to eavesdrop on.

noun Also eaves·drip [eevz-drip] /ˈivzˌdrɪp/.

water that drips from the eaves.
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. 2019

Related Words for eavesdrop

snoop, overhear, spy, wire, tap, monitor, pry, bug, wiretap

Examples from the Web for eavesdrop

Contemporary Examples of eavesdrop

Historical Examples of eavesdrop

  • 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

(intr) to listen secretly to the private conversation of others
Derived Formseavesdropper, noun

Word Origin for eavesdrop

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper