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[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 eavesdropping
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Something that was very far from humour impelled Stella to say quickly, "I hope you don't imagine I was eavesdropping."

    The Lamp in the Desert Ethel M. Dell
  • Is it my fault that the truth can be learned by eavesdropping only?

    Foma Gordyeff Maxim Gorky
  • She thought of sitting down very softly and of eavesdropping.

    The Way of Ambition Robert Hichens
  • The report of his eavesdropping leads to the casting off of Hero at the altar.

    William Shakespeare John Masefield
  • Then, with a sudden sense of eavesdropping, he moved noiselessly back until he struck the main trail.

    Angel Island Inez Haynes Gillmore
British Dictionary definitions for eavesdropping


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 eavesdropping



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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