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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

Related Words for eavesdropper

auditor, snoop, sleuth, wiretapper, hearer

Examples from the Web for eavesdropper

Historical Examples of eavesdropper

  • If you care to be an eavesdropper you must have a knowledge of Gaelic to be one effectively.

    Camps, Quarters and Casual Places

    Archibald Forbes

  • Betide what might, it was not for Garnache to play the eavesdropper.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

  • There's no need of mincing the matter; we need fear no eavesdropper here.

  • "God forbid I should act as eavesdropper," exclaimed the passenger.

  • This eavesdropper knew their arrangements for the night ride.

    Oswald Langdon

    Carson Jay Lee

British Dictionary definitions for eavesdropper


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 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 eavesdropper


mid-15c., from Middle English eavesdrop, from Old English yfesdrype "place around a house where the rainwater drips off the roof," from eave (q.v.) + drip (v.). Technically, "one who stands at walls or windows to overhear what's going on inside."

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper