Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



eaves +‎ drop, i.e. listening at the eaves of a building.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈiːvzˌdɹɒp/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈivzˌdɹɑp/
  • (file)
  • (file)


eavesdrop (third-person singular simple present eavesdrops, present participle eavesdropping, simple past and past participle eavesdropped)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To hear a conversation one is not intended to hear; to listen in.
    I hope nobody was eavesdropping on our conversation last night, since it got so personal.
  2. (zoology) To listen for another organism's calls, so as to exploit them.
    • 1993, David W. Nagorsen, ‎Robert Mark Brigham, ‎Royal British Columbia Museum, Bats of British Columbia (page 109)
      [] Eastern Red Bat will eavesdrop on the sonar calls of other red bats to locate potential insect prey.
    • 2014, Ken Yasukawa, Animal Behavior: How and Why Animals Do the Things They Do:
      Frog-biting midges also depend on eavesdropping for reproduction, and one would predict similarly strong selection to evolve auditory adaptations for hearing and localizing calls of their hosts.

Usage notes[edit]

To eavesdrop usually implies the listener is purposefully trying to hear the conversation of others. To overhear is more often accidental.


  • (hear conversation one is not intended to hear): overhear

Derived terms[edit]



eavesdrop (plural eavesdrops)

  1. The dripping of rain from the eaves of a house
  2. The space around a house on which such water drips
  3. A concealed aperture through which an occupant of a building can surreptitiously listen to people talking at an entrance to the building
  4. The act of intentionally hearing a conversation not intended to be heard