verb (used with object), heard [hurd] /hɜrd/, hear·ing.

  1. to perceive by the ear: Didn’t you hear the doorbell?
  2. to learn by the ear or by being told; be informed of: to hear news.
  3. to listen to; give or pay attention to: They refused to hear our side of the argument.
  4. to be among the audience at or of (something): to hear a recital.
  5. to give a formal, official, or judicial hearing to (something); consider officially, as a judge, sovereign, teacher, or assembly: to hear a case.
  6. to take or listen to the evidence or testimony of (someone): to hear the defendant.
  7. to listen to with favor, assent, or compliance.
  8. (of a computer) to perceive by speech recognition.

verb (used without object), heard [hurd] /hɜrd/, hear·ing.

  1. to be capable of perceiving sound by the ear; have the faculty of perceiving sound vibrations.
  2. to receive information by the ear or otherwise: to hear from a friend.
  3. to listen with favor, assent, or compliance (often followed by of): I will not hear of your going.
  4. (of a computer) to be capable of perceiving by speech recognition.
  5. (used as an interjection in the phrase Hear! Hear! to express approval, as of a speech).

verb hears, hearing or heard (hɜːd)

  1. (tr) to perceive (a sound) with the sense of hearing
  2. (tr; may take a clause as object) to listen todid you hear what I said?
  3. (when intr, sometimes foll by of or about; when tr, may take a clause as object) to be informed (of); receive information (about)to hear of his success; have you heard?
  4. law to give a hearing to (a case)
  5. (when intr, usually foll by of and used with a negative) to listen (to) with favour, assent, etcshe wouldn’t hear of it
  6. (intr foll by from) to receive a letter, news, etc (from)
  7. hear! hear! an exclamation used to show approval of something said
  8. hear tell dialect to be told (about); learn (of)

Old English heran (Anglian), (ge)hieran, hyran (West Saxon) “to hear, listen (to), obey, follow; accede to, grant; judge,” from Proto-Germanic *hauzjan (cf. Old Norse heyra, Old Frisian hora, Dutch horen, German hören, Gothic hausjan), perhaps from PIE *kous- “to hear” (see acoustic). The shift from *-z- to -r- is a regular feature in some Germanic languages.

For spelling, see see head (n.); spelling distinction between hear and here developed 1200-1550. Old English also had the excellent adjective hiersum “ready to hear, obedient,” literally “hear-some” with suffix from handsome, etc. Hear, hear! (1680s) was originally imperative, used as an exclamation to call attention to a speaker’s words; now a general cheer of approval. Originally it was hear him!


  1. To perceive (sound) by the ear.

In addition to the idioms beginning with hear

  • hear a peep out of
  • hear a pin drop, can
  • hear from
  • hear of
  • hear oneself think, can’t
  • hear out

also see:

  • another county heard from
  • hard of hearing
  • never hear the end of
  • not have it (hear of it)
  • unheard of

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