Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To listen secretly to the private conversation of others.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. 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.
  • n. The water which falls in drops from the eaves of a house.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. listen without the speaker's knowledge

Etymologies

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.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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

  • 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.

    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.

    Archive 2006-03-05

  • 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

  • It was obvious from the notes now that the reason these devices had not been put into use by Urtho was that anyone could "eavesdrop" on conversations held with their aid.

    Storm Breaking

  • But if he were to "eavesdrop" now, it would be deliberate-and since he had not been invited, he was not going to intrude on this most private of moments for them.

    Winds Of Fate

  • In other words, it is possible for someone to "eavesdrop" on your computer's conversation with the website.

    New Urban Legends

  • If you simply want to learn a little more about people you've heard of online, you can follow their tweets and "eavesdrop" in an acceptable way.

    Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing

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