Denotation vs. Connotation


[eevz-drop] /ˈivzˌdrɒp/
verb (used without object), eavesdropped, eavesdropping.
to listen secretly to a private conversation.
verb (used with object), eavesdropped, eavesdropping.
Archaic. to eavesdrop on.
noun, Also, eavesdrip
[eevz-drip] /ˈivzˌdrɪp/ (Show IPA)
water that drips from the eaves.
the ground on which such water falls.
Origin of eavesdrop
late Middle English
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 forms
eavesdropper, noun
antieavesdropping, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for eavesdropper
Historical Examples
  • Whereupon, not being of set purpose an eavesdropper, Margaret went out and shut the door softly.

    Joan of the Sword Hand S(amuel) R(utherford) Crockett
  • If you care to be an eavesdropper you must have a knowledge of Gaelic to be one effectively.

  • The eavesdropper was not able to understand their words, but the gestures left no doubt of their fearful meaning.

    The Young Ranchers Edward S. Ellis
  • Betide what might, it was not for Garnache to play the eavesdropper.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
  • It made an immediate difference in my feeling towards the other eavesdropper.

    Witching Hill E. W. Hornung
  • "God forbid I should act as eavesdropper," exclaimed the passenger.

  • "Silence there," sung out Lanyard, not quite satisfied apparently with having so long played the eavesdropper.

  • This eavesdropper knew their arrangements for the night ride.

    Oswald Langdon Carson Jay Lee
  • Could you have seen the eavesdropper rubbing his hands together, grinning, and listening in breathless suspense!

    Old Fritz and the New Era Louise Muhlbach
  • Uncle Thomas kept his promise to act as eavesdropper during Paul's calls.

    Oswald Langdon Carson Jay Lee
British Dictionary definitions for eavesdropper


verb -drops, -dropping, -dropped
(intransitive) to listen secretly to the private conversation of others
Derived Forms
eavesdropper, 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
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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."



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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