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1487 __ EAVESDROP — etymology
Comment : EAVESDROPPER : 1487, from Old English « yfesdrype » "place around a house where the rainwater drips off the roof," from eave (q.v.) + drip. Technically, "one who stands at walls or windows to overhear what's going on inside.".EAVE : late Old English, from S.W. Midlands dial. eovese (sing.), from Old English efes "edge of a roof," from Proto-Germanic. *ubaswa-/*ubiswa (cf. Old High German. obasa "porch, hall, roof," Gothic ubizwa "porch," German oben "above"), from the root of over. Treated as plural and new singular form eave emerged c.1580. (Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, 2001)The origin of the term is from when people would literally hide out in the eavesdrop of a house to listen in on private conversations... Eavesdropping was already prohibited by ancient Saxon law. From the Saxon custom arose the term eavesdropping, as being one who pries into the business of others or listens to private conversations. By common law, an eavesdropper was regarded as a nuisance. The offence was punishable by fine. Though the offence of eavesdropping still exists in common law, there is no modern instance of a prosecution or indictment... The eavesdrop or eavesdrip is the width of ground around a house or building which receives the rain water dropping from the eaves. By an ancient Saxon law, a landowner was forbidden to erect any building at less than 2 feet from the boundary of his land, and was thus prevented from injuring his neighbors house or property by the dripping of water from his eaves. The law of Eavesdrip has had its equivalent in the Roman stillicidium, which prohibited building up to the very edge of an estate.
French comment : EAVESDROP : écouter aux portes, écouter ce qui se dit, espionner, écouter quelqu’un de façon indiscrète, écouter les conversations privées de quelqu’un, mettre les conversations de quelqu’un sur écoute, écouter secrètement ou indiscrètement, écoute clandestine.Du vieil anglais “yfesdrype” ; composé d'eaves et drop, là où l'on peut entendre la pluie tomber. (Compiled from various sources)
Urls : http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=Eave&searchmode=none (last visited )

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