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intr.v. eaves·dropped, eaves·drop·ping, eaves·drops
1. To listen secretly to the private conversation of others.
2. To gain access to private electronic communications, as through wiretapping or the interception of email or cell phone calls.

[Probably back-formation from eavesdropper, one who eavesdrops, from Middle English evesdropper, from evesdrop, place where water falls from the eaves, from Old English yfesdrype; see upo in Indo-European roots.]

eaves′drop′per n.


nheimliches Lauschen or Horchen; electronic eavesdropping (esp Pol) → Lauschangriff m (→ on auf +acc), → Lauschoperation f(on gegen)
References in classic literature ?
We decided that she must have been eavesdropping, but as we could recall nothing of importance that had passed between us we dismissed the matter as of little consequence, merely promising ourselves to be warned to the utmost caution in the future.
It was so unnatural and so unsuited to the scene that it might have been made by some inhuman thing flying on wings above them or eavesdropping in the dark woods beyond.
Here Tink, who was in her bedroom, eavesdropping, squeaked out something impudent.
Upon the end of his long, stringy neck his little head was cocked to one side, his close-set eyes were half closed, his ears, so expressive was his whole attitude of stealthy eavesdropping, seemed truly to be cocked forward--even his long, yellow, straggly moustache appeared to assume a sly droop.
So they talked till the drinks had been brought and paid for, till another little party had quitted the room and they sat in their lonely corner, secure from observation or from any possibility of eavesdropping.
His language demonstrates how well he has put the art of eavesdropping to use in developing a nuanced and crystalline prose.
DIANA was probably bugged by a high-tech US system codenamed Echelon, an eavesdropping expert said last night.
The administration immediately appealed the decision and on October 4, a three-judge panel ruled that the NSA may continue its eavesdropping while awaiting a final ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
And, in fact, the Administration tried to get language into that authorization that would have permitted such warrantless eavesdropping, but the Senate didn't go along, as then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has noted.
Polls suggest that Americans are divided over whether President Bush has the authority to order eavesdropping without warrants; the issue seems to provoke very different reactions depending on how it is presented.
In an online eavesdropping case with profound implications for electronic communications, a federal appeals court ruled that a company that provides e-mail service can copy and read its subscribers' messages.