Caught Eavesdropping : Phrases
A person found to be deliberately trying to overhear a conversation not intended for his/her ears.
The phrase goes back centuries to the time when most houses had no gutters - the rain dripped off the roofs but the roofs themselves projected well beyond the walls. This area inside where the water dripped was known originally as the Eavesdrip, and later as the Eavesdrop. People sheltering here were somewhat protected from the rain, but could also overhear what was going on in the house.
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