crim. law. Persons as wait under walls or windows or the eaves of a house, to listen to discourses, and thereupon to frame mischievous tales. 2. The common law punishment for this offence is fine, and finding sureties for good behaviour. 3. In modern times, this usually means listening to private conversations or observing private actions usually by using special surveillance equipment that may amplify sound or light. The term originates from listening to a conversation under the eaves of a home. Communications may be intercepted (wiretap) and must usually require a legally authorized search warrant or court order.