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3 years, 11 months ago
I am wondering if there's a verb that means "listening stealthily" or "listening to someone or a group of people without having him/them know".
I am highly confident that there's a verb, but I can't seem to remember what it was.
Just so that we're in the same page, here's an example:
John put his ears over the door to ___ at the private conversation between the king and the queen.
Apr 21, 2019 at 21:10
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The word you're looking for is probably
Secretly listen to a conversation.
‘my father eavesdropped on my phone calls’
(source: Lexico powered by Oxford Dictionaries)
@Zikato reminded me of
this scene from The Fellowship of the Ring where Sam is caught eavesdropping (around 2:45) on a secret conversation between Gandalf and Frodo.
Apr 21, 2019 at 21:15
Glorfindel ♦ Glorfindel
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While I think eavesdrop is probably your best choice,
spy would also be an appropriate descriptor for the action of stealthily listening though it does include all kinds of observation, so watching (and I suppose smelling?) as well.
Observe (someone) furtively.
Oxford Dictionary )
Apr 22, 2019 at 13:11
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You can use
to listen in.
It can be used either without an object, or with one. In that case, you listen in
Definition and examples from the
Listen to a private conversation, especially secretly.
Seth listened in as his father chatted philosophy with friends
I hurried him into my room and shut the door behind us; I didn't want any eavesdroppers listening in on our conversation.
At this point, I decided to stop listening in on their private conversation.
Apr 23, 2019 at 8:33
This is more of a visual, (perhaps even
nasal), term, but it doesn't rule out listening:
: to look or pry especially in a sneaking or meddlesome manner
She locks up her diary to keep her brother from snooping.
Apr 23, 2019 at 3:09
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A word that means "listening to someone or a group of people without having him/them know" but not "listening stealthily" is
Hear (someone or something) without meaning to or without the knowledge of the speaker.
‘I overheard two doctors discussing my case.’
(source: usage from
collins and definition from oxford)
Apr 22, 2019 at 9:48
I agree that
eavesdrop is a good word for this.
An alternative synonym is
Oxford Dictionaries definition
Secretly listen to a conversation.
‘he looked behind him to see if anyone was earwigging’
Apr 23, 2019 at 8:16
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In this case ‘spy’ could do as well, though that indicates more than just listening, it’s more ‘observing stealthily’
Apr 24, 2019 at 8:21
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