drop / dräp/ • v. (dropped, drop·ping) [tr.] 1. let or make (something) fall vertically: the fire was caused by someone dropping a lighted cigarette | they dropped bombs on London during the raid. ∎ deliver (supplies or troops) by parachute: the airlift dropped food into the camp. ∎ Rugby score (a goal) by a drop kick. ∎ (of an animal, esp. a mare, cow, or ewe) give birth to (young). ∎ inf. take (a drug, esp. LSD) orally: he dropped a lot of acid in the Sixties.2. [intr.] fall vertically: the spoon dropped with a clatter from her hand. ∎ (of a person) allow oneself to fall; let oneself down without jumping: they escaped by climbing out of the window and dropping to the ground. ∎ (of a person or animal) sink to or toward the ground: he dropped to his knees in the mud. ∎ inf. collapse or die from exhaustion: he looked ready to drop. ∎ (of ground) slope steeply down: the cliff drops ninety yards to the valley below.3. make or become lower, weaker, or less: [tr.] he dropped his voice as she came into the room | [intr.] pretax profits dropped by 37 percent tourism has dropped off in the last few years. 4. abandon or discontinue (a course of action or study): the charges against him were dropped last year | drop everything and get over here! ∎ discard or exclude (someone or something): they were dropped from the team in the reshuffle. ∎ inf. stop associating with: I was under pressure from family and friends to drop Barbara. ∎ omit (a letter or syllable) in speech: our English au pair drops her h's.5. set down or unload (a passenger or goods), esp. on the way to somewhere else: he dropped the load off at a dealer's | his mom dropped him outside and drove off to work. ∎ [tr.] put or leave in a particular place without ceremony or formality: just drop it in the mail when you've got time. ∎ mention in passing, typically in order to impress: she dropped a remark about having been included in the selection.6. (in sports) fail to win (a point, game, or match). ∎ inf. lose (money), esp. through gambling: they drifted into a roulette parlor and dropped about fifteen dollars.7. Bridge be forced to play (a relatively high card) as a loser under an opponent's higher card, because it is the only card in its suit held in the hand. ∎ force (an opponent's high card) to be played as a loser in this way: declarer dropped West's queen on the second round of spades. ∎ [intr.] (of a card) be played in this way: the queen dropped.• n. 1. a small round or pear-shaped portion of liquid that hangs or falls or adheres to a surface: the first drops of rain splashed on the ground. ∎ a very small amount of liquid: there was not a drop of water in sight. ∎ a drink of alcoholic liquor: he doesn't touch a drop during the week. ∎ (drops) liquid medicine to be measured or applied in very small amounts: eye drops.2. [usu. in sing.] an instance of falling or dropping: they left within five minutes of the drop of the curtain. ∎ an act of dropping supplies or troops by parachute: the planes finally managed to make the drop. ∎ a fall in amount, quality, or rate: a significant drop in consumer spending. ∎ an abrupt fall or slope: standing on the lip of a sixty-foot drop. ∎ (the drop) Bridge the playing of a high card underneath an opponent's higher card, because it is the only card in its suit held in the hand.3. something that drops or is dropped, in particular: ∎ a section of theatrical scenery lowered from the flies; a drop cloth or drop curtain. ∎ a trapdoor on a gallows, the opening of which causes the prisoner to fall and thus be hanged. ∎ (the drop) execution by hanging.4. something resembling a drop of liquid in shape, in particular: ∎ a piece of candy or a lozenge: a lemon drop. ∎ a pendant earring.5. inf. a delivery: I got to the depot and made the drop. ∎ a mailbox. ∎ a hiding place for stolen, illicit, or secret things: the lavatory's toilet tank could be used as a letter drop.PHRASES: at the drop of a hat inf. without delay or good reason: he used to be very bashful, blushing at the drop of a hat.drop the ball inf. make a mistake; mishandle things: I really dropped the ball on this one.drop dead die suddenly and unexpectedly: she had seen her father drop dead of a heart attack. ∎ [in imper.] inf. used as an expression of intense scorn or dislike.drop a (or the) dime on inf. inform on (someone) to the police.drop like flies see fly2 .drop one's guard abandon one's habitual defensive or protective stance.drop a hint (or drop hints) let fall a hint or hints, as if casually or unconsciously: he was dropping hints that in the future he would be taking a back seat in politics.a drop in the bucket (or Brit. ocean) a very small amount compared with what is needed or expected: the $550 million is likely to be a drop in the bucket.drop someone a line send someone a note or letter in a casual manner: drop me a line at the usual address.drop names see name-dropping.drop one's serve (in tennis) lose a game in which one is serving.drop a stitch let a stitch fall off the end of a knitting needle.drop one's trousers deliberately let one's trousers fall down, esp. in a public place.have the drop on inf. have the advantage over: if your enemy gets the drop on you he can kill you.a drop too much inf. enough alcohol to make one drunk: you drive, because he has taken a drop too much.PHRASAL VERBS: drop back/behind fall back or get left behind: the colt was struggling to stay with the pace and started to drop back.drop by/in call informally and briefly as a visitor: they would unexpectedly drop in on us.drop into1. call casually and informally at (a place): he'd actually considered dropping into one of the pickup bars.2. pass quickly and easily into (a habitual state or manner): she couldn't help dropping into a Brooklyn accent.drop off fall asleep easily, esp. without intending to: struggle as she might, she kept dropping off.drop out1. cease to participate in a race or competition.2. abandon a course of study: kids who had dropped out of college.3. reject conventional society to pursue an alternative lifestyle: a child of the sixties who had temporarily dropped out.4. Rugby restart play with a drop kick. ∎ score a drop goal.DERIVATIVES: drop·pa·ble adj.
"Drop" is intelligence parlance for the location at which an agent passes information to another, or the act of passing that information—as in "making a drop." In a live drop, the two individuals actually meet. Given the dangers of this, it is more common to employ a "dead drop." The latter term refers to a prearranged spot at which one party passes information to another without actually meeting. Often a dead drop—a term that again refers both to the place and the act—also involves the transfer of money, as when a double agent leaves information for a handler, and the handler returns the favor with cash payment.
It so happens that the most commonly cited examples of drops and dead drops involved agents working for the Soviet bloc during the Cold War. This is probably the case because, for obvious reasons, Western intelligence agencies are not as likely to reveal the methods employed by their own agents.
One oft-cited example is that of John Walker, who passed $1 million of United States Navy secrets to the Soviets before the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) finally caught up with him in 1985. In making his drops, Walker used a garbage bag containing bits of recognizable trash—but nothing that would smell strongly and attract animals—along with documents and other important materials. His KGB handler would in turn leave another bag containing money.
In the same year the FBI caught Walker, the Soviets recruited the FBI's own Robert Hanssen, who accumulated $1.4 million for betraying his country before the authorities caught him in February 2001. At the time of his arrest, Hanssen was making a dead drop under a footbridge at Foxstone Park in Vienna, Virginia.
█ FURTHER READING:
Nash, Jay Robert. Spies: A Narrative Encyclopedia of Dirty Deeds and Double Dealing from Biblical Times to Today. New York: M. Evans, 1997.
Polmar, Norman, and Thomas B. Allen. Spy Book: The Encyclopedia of Espionage. New York: Random House, 1998.
"Traitorous Actions": FBI Agent Charged With Spying for Moscow. <http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/FBIarrest010220.html> (February 1, 2003).
Cambridge University Spy Ring
Dead Drop Spike
Hanssen (Robert) Espionage Case
Walker Family Spy Ring
So drop vb. fall in drops OE.; let fall XIV. OE. drop(p)ian.