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 notesEdit

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 termsEdit



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