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From Middle English heren, from Old English hēran, hȳran, hīeran ‎(to hear), from Proto-Germanic *hauzijaną ‎(to hear), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ḱh₂owsyé- ‎(to be sharp-eared), from *h₂eḱ- ‎(sharp) + *h₂ows- ‎(ear) + *-yé- (denominative suffix). Compare Saterland Frisian heere ‎(to hear), West Frisian hearre ‎(to hear), Dutch horen ‎(to hear), German hören ‎(to hear), Danish høre ‎(to hear), Icelandic heyra ‎(to hear).

From the same Proto-Indo-European root *h₂ḱh₂owsyé- ‎(to be sharp-eared), see Ancient Greek ἀκουστικός ‎(akoustikós, auditory), from which English acoustic.

Alternative forms[edit]



hear ‎(third-person singular simple present hears, present participle hearing, simple past and past participle heard)

  1. (intransitive) To perceive sounds through the ear. [from 10th c.]
    I was deaf, and now I can hear.
  2. (transitive) To perceive (a sound, or something producing a sound) with the ear, to recognize (something) in an auditory way. [from 10th c.]
    I heard a sound from outside the window.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, The Celebrity:
      Mr. Cooke at once began a tirade against the residents of Asquith for permitting a sandy and generally disgraceful condition of the roads. So roundly did he vituperate the inn management in particular, and with such a loud flow of words, that I trembled lest he should be heard on the veranda.
  3. (transitive) To exercise this faculty intentionally; to listen to. [from 10th c.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, John X:
      Agayne there was dissencion amonge the iewes for these sayinges, and many of them sayd: He hath the devyll, and is madde: why heare ye hym?
    • 1935, George Goodchild, chapter 3, Death on the Centre Court:
      It had been his intention to go to Wimbledon, but as he himself said: “Why be blooming well frizzled when you can hear all the results over the wireless. And results are all that concern me. […]”
  4. (transitive) To listen favourably to; to grant (a request etc.). [from 10th c.]
    Eventually the king chose to hear her entreaties.
  5. (transitive) To receive information about; to come to learn of. [from 10th c.]
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost:
      Adam, soon as he heard / The fatal Trespass don by Eve, amaz'd, / Astonied stood and Blank [...].
  6. (transitive) To listen to (a person, case) in a court of law; to try. [from 12th c.]
    Your case will be heard at the end of the month.
  7. (transitive, informal) To sympathize with; to share the feeling or opinion of.
    You're tired of all the ads on TV? I hear ya.

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