to listen secretly to a private conversation.
Archaic. to eavesdrop on.
water that drips from the eaves.
the ground on which such water falls.
Contemporary Examples

Theirs is a delicious conversation—academic, intimate, professional—on which to eavesdrop.
Prada and Schiaparelli Exhibit Opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Robin Givhan May 6, 2012

A brilliant look into the lives of the 1980s East German Stasi (Secret Police) and the civilians they spy and eavesdrop on.
Shawn Ryan’s Favorite War Movies Shawn Ryan September 25, 2012

But the FSB has far more power to eavesdrop on Russian and foreign citizens than the FBI or the NSA.
Sorry, Snowden: Putin Lied to You About His Surveillance State—And Made You a Pawn of It Eli Lake April 17, 2014

NCIS managed to eavesdrop on phone calls Wright made to his mother, Valerie Burgess.
The Navy ‘Hero’ Who Pimped an HIV-Positive Teen M.L. Nestel December 10, 2014

Though I really wanted to eavesdrop on what went on between the takes with you and Rita and Mary Kay and Meryl.
Ali Wentworth Gets Complicated Kevin Sessums December 21, 2009

Historical Examples

I had promised not to spy nor eavesdrop, but that did not prohibit escape.
Heralds of Empire Agnes C. Laut

So I judged I’d got to do the other thing—lay for them and eavesdrop.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

I don’t say I actually hurried away, but I wasn’t going to eavesdrop.
The Ranch Girls at Rainbow Lodge Margaret Vandercook

“You’d think there were better things to eavesdrop on than fishes,” said Urson.
The Jewels of Aptor Samuel R. Delany

And some fish make noises and the fishermen use these ears to eavesdrop on them and catch them.
Creatures of the Abyss Murray Leinster

verb -drops, -dropping, -dropped
(intransitive) to listen secretly to the private conversation of others

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


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