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Eaves-dropper

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One who listens stealthily to conversation. The derivation of the term is not usually understood. The owners of private estates in Saxon times were not allowed to cultivate to the extremity of their possessions, but were obliged to leave a space for eaves. This space was called the yfes-drype (eaves-drip). An eaves-dropper is one who places himself in the eaves-drip to overhear what is said in the adjacent house or field.        

“Under our tents Iʹll play the eaves-dropper,

To hear if any mean to shrink from me.”


Shakespeare: Richard III., v. 3.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Easter Eggs
Eat
Eat not the Brain
Eat not the Heart
Eat One’s Heart Out (To)
Eats his Head Off (The horse)
Eating One’s Terms
Eating Together
Eau de Cologne
Eau de Vie
Eaves-dropper
Ebionism
Ebionites
Eblis or Ibleis
Ebony
Ebudæ
Ecce Homo
Ecce Signum
Eccentric
Eccentric Sensation
Eccentric Theory (The)