From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

To eavesdrop is to surreptitiously overhear a private conversation. Eavesdropping has been called the aural equivalent of voyeurism



Ancient Anglo-Saxon law punished eavesdroppers, who skulked in the Eavesdrip of another's home, with a fine.


Eavesdropping can also be done over telephone lines (wiretapping), email, instant messaging, and any other method of communication considered private. (If a message is publicly broadcast, witnessing it does not count as eavesdropping.

In ancient China, it is said that to prevent eavesdropping when discussing important matters, soldiers would instead draw the characters on hands or papers. This is where the superstition of the "black dot" on a piece of paper comes from

The Canadian heroine Laura Secord is famous for having eavesdropped on the plans of the American army and delivering this information to the British.

Eavesdropping in fiction

Eavesdropping is something of a clichéd plot device in fiction, allowing the hero or villain to gain vital information by deliberately or accidentally overhearing a conversation. For instance, in "Letting In the Jungle" by Rudyard Kipling, Mowgli overhears the hunter Buldeo telling some men that Mowgli's adopted mother Messua is about to be executed, so Mowgli sets about rescuing her.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Eavesdropping" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools