July 23, 2007
Eavesdrop- To listen secretly to the private conversation of others.
An eave is the edge of a roof which usually projects beyond the side of the building to offer weather protection. In Old English, eavesdrop (or eavesdrip) referred to the ground of the house on which water falls from the eaves. By the 15th century, the word eavesdropper came to mean someone who stood within the eavesdrop of a house to overhear what is going on inside. This lead to the verb eavesdrop and is first recorded in the seventeenth century.
Sources: The Merriam-Webster Book of Word Histories, www.answers.com
Pic: Painting by William Powell Frith.