EAVESDROP: To secretly listen to a conversation. This one goes waaaay back. Comes originally from eavesdrip, meaning water dripping off the eaves of a building. In the middle ages there were legal restrictions to keep folks from building too close to their property lines. This kept the eaves from dripping on thy neighbor’s land and damaging it. One likes to keep the fiefdom in tip top shape, you know.
What follows by 1487 is the word eavesdropper meaning one who stood under the eaves and listened in on thy neighbor’s discussions. Discussions probably ran the gamut from the usual “a serf walks into a pub” jokes to the more serious issue of what Lancelot was really sporting under all that chain mail. A person could actually be fined for skulking about the eaves. I personally would have liked to get to the bottom of the Lancelot thing. But as we’ve already established I’m rather shameless when it comes to the eavesdrip.
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