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Eavesdropping vs. Overhearing

with 3 comments

Is it really eavesdrop, with a “V”? That’s so weird. Does anyone pronounce it with the hard “V” sound?


My grandmother slapped me across the face for eavesdropping once. Ever since then I’ve been somewhat the anti-eavesdropper. Apparently it’s not a socially accepted activity.


Do you like semantics? Me too. It’s because of semantics that we can eavesdrop without being slapped by grandma simply by saying we “overheard” it.


The difference is so simple, a child probably made it up. Eavesdropping is the sick, sinister, evil, deceptive, maniacal act of sneaking and hiding to hear things you’re not supposed to. Overhearing is where you are the victim. You didn’t necessarily want to hear it, but you couldn’t help it because it was forced inside your ears.


So it’s true, especially with all the cell phone use in public these days. Not too long ago I was at the grocery store and went to get some cookie dough and then woman standing there was discussing the events of a pedophile’s victim case in detail. Suddenly I no longer wanted cookies. Hell, after that I no longer wanted to be in the store. I wanted to go hide in the trunk of my car.


Truth is, sometimes you really can’t help but to overhear people. Here’s a great example. Today I was standing in line at the bank and a guy in front of me was approached by another guy and I got to hear the following conversation (I’m paraphrasing):


Other Guy: Hey John! (excited)

Guy in line: Hey… (not so excited)

Other Guy: Franklin. (kind of offended)

Guy in line: Yeah, I know. (total lie)

Other Guy: What’s going on?

Guy in line: Nothing, waiting in line.

Other Guy: Isn’t your girlfriend a botanist?

Guy in line: She has a degree in horticulture.

Other Guy: Do you know of any liquids that are odorless that will kill plants?

Guy in line: What?

Other Guy: I was thinking bleach, but bleach is real stinky, but I didn’t know if the soil might soak up the smell.

Guy in line: Yeah, I don’t know. (totally stunned)

Other Guy: Maybe transmission fluid or antifreeze? Is antifreeze bad for plants?

Guy in line: I doubt that it’s very good.

Other Guy: I wish gasoline or paint stripper wasn’t so smelly ya know?

Guy in line: What do you want to know this for?

[thank goodness, he finally asks!]

Other Guy: The secretary where I work is such a bitch and she’s on vacation this week so I thought it’d be hilarious if I killed all her stupid plants on her desk.

And there you have it, the time when being in the right place at the right time can totally make your day.


Egg On!

Ramblin’ Rooster


Written by Ramblin' Rooster

January 6, 2009 at 5:13 am

3 Responses

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  1. Yes, it eavesdropping, with a ‘v’. It comes from the old habit of dropping by under the eaves of a house to have a listen to what might be going on inside. No, it isn’t very respectable and might be taken of r being a peeping Tom, which also is an interesting story of a guy named Tom and a woman name Lady Godiva….you’d think he’d never seen a horse before.


    January 6, 2009 at 5:18 am

    • thedeeperthings, thanks for digging deep and shedding light on the subject. I didn’t know that’s where the eaves came from. Very interesting. I apprecaite your comment.

      Ramblin' Rooster

      January 7, 2009 at 5:33 am

  2. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!



    May 23, 2010 at 2:08 am

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