Eaves - eves

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

The homophones eaves and eves are pronounced 'eeves', IPA: /iːvz/. They are mostly confused in the compound verb 'to eavesdrop'.

  • The eaves of a house is 'the space under an overhanging roof'; 'the shelter under overlapping thatch, tiles or gutters'. The word 'eaves', which is derived from Old Germanic that also produced the Old Frisian and Flemish bisyllables ose and oose, should be treated as a singular ("The eaves is where you will find house-martins nesting"), but is often treated as a plural ("The eaves are where you will find house-martins nesting").
    • So, to eavesdrop is to overhear conversation, to listen to things one is not meant to listen to. The single verb conveys an image of a stealthy person hanging from the edge of a roof and listening in at an open window.
  • Eves is the plural of eve, a shorter form of evening. Its special meaning, not shared by 'evening', is 'the day before [a saint's day, or similar]'. (Most readers of AWE know of Christmas Eve as a name for 24th December. They may also know about the nerves experienced by soldiers on the eve of battle.) The plural is quite rare.