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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English hercnen, from Old English *heorcnian, suffixed form of an assumed *heorcian (compare hark), from the same root as hīeran (whence hear), with a formative/intensive -k. Equivalent to hark + -en.



hearken (third-person singular simple present hearkens, present participle hearkening, simple past and past participle hearkened)

  1. (intransitive) To listen; to attend or give heed to what is uttered; to hear with attention, obedience, or compliance.
    • Dryden
      The Furies hearken, and their snakes uncurl.
    • Bible, Deuteronomy
      Hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you.
  2. (transitive, poetic) To hear by listening.
    • Spenser
      [She] hearkened now and then / Some little whispering and soft groaning sound.
  3. (transitive) To hear with attention; to regard.
    • Shakespeare
      The King of Naples [] hearkens my brother's suit.
  4. (obsolete) To enquire; to seek information.
    • Shakespeare
      Hearken after their offense.


  • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981:
    , Genesis 3:17
    And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
  • 1833: Alfred Tennyson, Œnone
    Dear mother Ida, harken ere I die.
  • 1809-49: The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allan Poe
    How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.

Derived terms[edit]