Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To listen secretly to the private conversation of others.
  • intransitive verb To gain access to private electronic communications, as through wiretapping or the interception of e-mail or cell phone calls.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The water which falls in drops from the eaves of a house.
  • To lurk under the eaves or near the windows of a house to listen and learn what is said within doors.
  • Figuratively, to lie in wait to hear the private conversation of others.
  • To listen to in a clandestine manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The water which falls in drops from the eaves of a house.
  • intransitive verb To stand under the eaves, near a window or at the door, of a house, to listen and learn what is said within doors; hence, to listen secretly to what is said in private.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To hear a conversation one is not intended to hear; to listen in.
  • noun The dripping of rain from the eaves of a house
  • noun The space around a house on which such water drips
  • noun A concealed aperture through which an occupant of a building can surreptitiously listen to people talking at an entrance to the building
  • noun The act of intentionally hearing a conversation not intended to be heard

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb listen without the speaker's knowledge

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Probably back-formation from eavesdropper, one who eavesdrops, from Middle English evesdropper, from evesdrop, place where water falls from the eaves, from Old English yfesdrype; see upo in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

  • Oops--I didn't meant that I thought it was bad to "eavesdrop"---because I do that on a regular basis.

    Dr. Swindler and Mr. Crook

  • Today, the NSA’s capability to eavesdrop is far beyond anything ever dreamed of by Justice Brandeis.

    Big Brother Is Listening

  • Today, the NSA’s capability to eavesdrop is far beyond anything ever dreamed of by Justice Brandeis.

    Big Brother Is Listening

  • Yes, the telephone companies were told by the Bush/Cheney administration they were to 'eavesdrop' on their customers in February 2001, only Qwest refused and they lost a very lucrative government contract as a result, plus their CEO was found guilty of insider trading because he sold a block of his stock when this occurred.

    PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 �� THE FARCE CONTINUES

  • It also means that anyone with the right technology can "eavesdrop" on the government reading your passport remotely.

    US Gov Helps Identity Thieves UPDATED

  • Tobacco plants have been shown to "eavesdrop" on chemical signals released by sage plants under attack from herbivores, and prepare their own defenses, in this latest study of plant-to-plant communication.

    Archive 2006-03-05

  • It also means that anyone with the right technology can "eavesdrop" on the government reading your passport remotely.

    SeeLight:

  • Tobacco plants have been shown to "eavesdrop" on chemical signals released by sage plants under attack from herbivores, and prepare their own defenses, in this latest study of plant-to-plant communication.

    More evidence of plant communication

  • I had the opportunity to kind of eavesdrop on a couple of interrogations, which are certainly surreal, if you're used to this sort of anti-American propaganda, where the guys are in dungeons and chains, chained to these little, wooden chairs under the bare light bulb, or some guys beating the information out of them.

    Mark Steyn and Hugh Hewitt reveal the true impulses underlying yesterday's vote

  • I had the opportunity to kind of eavesdrop on a couple of interrogations, which are certainly surreal, if you're used to this sort of anti-American propaganda, where the guys are in dungeons and chains, chained to these little, wooden chairs under the bare light bulb, or some guys beating the information out of them.

    Archive 2006-09-01

Comments

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  • Definition from Wiley's Dictionary (B.C. cartoon strip): "What eaves do when not put up properly."

    January 13, 2008