ear to the ground

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ear to the ground (plural ears to the ground)

  1. (idiomatic) The practice or characteristic of carefully gathering information; a state or mindset of attentiveness.
    • 1903, Charles W. Chesnutt, “The Disfranchisement of the Negro” in The Negro Problem:
      Congress never enacts a measure which is believed to oppose public opinion;—your Congressman keeps his ear to the ground.
    • 1910, William MacLeod Raine, chapter 3, in A Texas Ranger:
      “There's no telling what a man might happen onto accidentally if he travels with his ear to the ground.”
    • 1990, David Eddings, Sorceress of Darshiva[1], →ISBN, page 148:
      The tavern keeper's an old friend of mine—we was shipmates when we was younger—and he sort of keeps his ear to the ground for me.
    • 2001 May 3, Elaine Shannon with Jessica Reaves, “Who'll Follow Freeh Into the FBI Corner Office?,” Time:
      TIME Justice Department correspondent Elaine Shannon is keeping her ear to the ground as candidates' names start to pop up.
  2. (attributively, usually hyphenated) Pursuing the practice or having the characteristic of carefully gathering information; well-informed.
    • 1949 Aug. 29, “Chile: Fast Work,” Time:
      The ear-to-the-ground President knew that all the unrest could not be blamed on Communists.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often used in the expressions “to keep one's (or an) ear to the ground ” and “to put one's (or an) ear to the ground ”.


See also[edit]