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Quick answer
"Overhear" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "oír por casualidad", and "eavesdrop" is an intransitive verb which is often translated as "escuchar a escondidas". Learn more about the difference between "overhear" and "eavesdrop" below.
overhear
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to hear without the speaker's knowledge)
a. oír por casualidad
I overheard the teacher say that he's going to bring his girlfriend to school on Thursday.Oí al maestro por casualidad decir que iba a traer a su novia a la escuela el jueves.
b. oír
George accidentally overheard that Rebecca is pregnant.George oyó por accidente que Rebecca está embarazada.
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
2. (to hear unintentionally)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Be quiet. We shouldn't talk about that here. Someone might overhear.Silencio. No deberíamos hablar de eso aquí. Alguien podría oírnos
Do you think the nun overheard?¿Crees que la monja oyó lo que decía?
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eavesdrop
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
1. (to listen surreptitiously)
a. escuchar a escondidas
John was furious when he caught his little brother eavesdropping at his door.John se puso furioso cuando sorprendió a su hermanito escuchando a escondidas junto a la puerta.
b. escuchar disimuladamente
Maggie regrets having eavesdropped when her father was on the phone.Maggie se arrepiente de haber escuchado disimuladamente cuando su papá estaba en el teléfono.
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