listen [lis-uh n] SynonymsWord Origin verb (used without object)
- to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear.
- to pay attention; heed; obey (often followed by to): Children don’t always listen to their parents.
- to wait attentively for a sound (usually followed by for): to listen for sounds of their return.
- Informal. to convey a particular impression to the hearer; sound: The new recording doesn’t listen as well as the old one.
verb (used with object)
- Archaic. to give ear to; hear.
- listen in,
- to listen to a radio or television broadcast: Listen in tomorrow for the names of the lottery winners.
- to overhear a conversation or communication, especially by telephone; eavesdrop: Someone was listening in to his private calls.
Origin of listen before 950; Middle English lis(t)nen, Old English hlysnan; cognate with Middle High German lüsenen, Swedish lyssna; akin toRelated formslis·ten·er, nounre·lis·ten, verbun·lis·ten·ing, adjectiveSynonyms for listen 1. See . British Dictionary definitions for listen-in listen verb (intr)
- to concentrate on hearing something
- to take heed; pay attentionI told you many times but you wouldn’t listen
Derived Formslistener, nounWord Origin for listen Old English hlysnan; related to Old High German lūstrēn Word Origin and History for listen-in listen v.
Old English hlysnan “to listen,” from Proto-Germanic *khlusinon (cf. Dutch luisteren, Old High German hlosen “to listen,” German lauschen “to listen”), from PIE root *kleu- “hearing, to hear” (cf. Sanskrit srnoti “hears,” srosati “hears, obeys;” Avestan sraothra “ear;” Middle Persian srod “hearing, sound;” Lithuanian klausau “to hear,” slove “splendor, honor;” Old Church Slavonic slusati “to hear,” slava “fame, glory,” slovo “word;” Greek klyo “hear, be called,” kleos “report, rumor, fame glory,” kleio “make famous;” Latin cluere “to hear oneself called, be spoken of;” Old Irish ro-clui-nethar “hears,” clunim “I hear,” clu “fame, glory,” cluada “ears;” Welsh clywaf “I hear;” Old English hlud “loud,” hleoðor “tone, tune;” Old High German hlut “sound;” Gothic hiluþ “listening, attention”). The -t- probably is by influence of Old English hlystan (see(v.2)). For vowel evolution, see . As a noun from 1788 (on the listen “alert”).