eaves·​drop | \ ˈēvz-ˌdräp How to pronounce eavesdrop (audio) \
eavesdropped; eavesdropping; eavesdrops

Definition of eavesdrop

intransitive verb

: to listen secretly to what is said in private

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Other Words from eavesdrop

eavesdropper noun

Examples of eavesdrop in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Fifty years ago, the biologist Robert Payne first eavesdropped on a humpback whale community and heard whale song. Alexandra Horowitz, New York Times, "Checking In on the Culture of Macaws, Sperm Whales and Chimpanzees," 14 Apr. 2020 Fans can eavesdrop on that platform through Twitch. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "NASCAR racer Kyle Larson uses racial slur during stream of virtual race," 13 Apr. 2020 Fans have also been able to eavesdrop through the streaming platform Twitch. NBC News, "NASCAR star Kyle Larson suspended for using N-word during virtual race," 13 Apr. 2020 However, the voice studying has sparked blowback because researchers have found security issues have that could be exploited by hackers to eavesdrop on people without their knowledge. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Facebook will pay you up to $5 to record your voice," 21 Feb. 2020 The devices can track people's locations and even eavesdrop on their calls, all thanks to weaknesses in the cellular network. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "One Small Fix Would Curb Stingray Surveillance," 27 Jan. 2020 The inspector general audit was a follow-up to the report scrutinizing the F.B.I.’s application for court permission to eavesdrop on Mr. Page. Charlie Savage, New York Times, "National Security Court Orders Deeper Look at 29 F.B.I. Wiretap Applications," 3 Apr. 2020 Some scientists are trying to eavesdrop on elephants by recording their rumbling communications, which are at a frequency too low for the human ear to pick up but can travel through the ground for miles. Justin Mott, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Are Learning How Asian Elephants Think—In Order to Save Them," 19 Mar. 2020 The hope was that the listener would enjoy feeling like a fly on the wall, eavesdropping on two scientists schmoozing. Quanta Magazine, "Why I’m Hosting The Joy of x Podcast," 15 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eavesdrop.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of eavesdrop

1606, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for eavesdrop

probably back-formation from eavesdropper, literally, one standing under the drip from the eaves

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Time Traveler for eavesdrop

Time Traveler

The first known use of eavesdrop was in 1606

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Statistics for eavesdrop

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Eavesdrop.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eavesdrop. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for eavesdrop


How to pronounce eavesdrop (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of eavesdrop

: to listen secretly to what other people are saying


eaves·​drop | \ ˈēvz-ˌdräp How to pronounce eavesdrop (audio) \
eavesdropped; eavesdropping

Kids Definition of eavesdrop

: to listen secretly to private conversation
eavesdropped; eavesdropping

Legal Definition of eavesdrop

: to listen secretly to what is being said in private without the consent of the speaker — compare bug, wiretap

Other Words from eavesdrop

eavesdropper noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on eavesdrop

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with eavesdrop

Spanish Central: Translation of eavesdrop

Nglish: Translation of eavesdrop for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eavesdrop for Arabic Speakers

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