hearken back

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From hearken + back, possibly an erroneous substitution of hearken (to hear (something) with attention; to have regard to (something); to listen; to attend or give heed to what is uttered; to hear with attention, compliance, or obedience) for hark: see the usage note.



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

  1. (sometimes proscribed) Synonym of hark back (to allude, return, or revert (to a subject previously mentioned, etc.); also, to evoke, or long or pine for (a past era or event))
    • 2019 April 14, Alex McLevy, “Winter is Here on Game of Thrones’ Final Season Premiere (Newbies)”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 18 December 2020:
      From the opening shots of the anonymous young Winterfell boy rushing to catch a glimpse of Jon Snow and Queen Daenerys Targaryen, hearkening back to those moments of the very first episode in which Arya rushed to do the same with an approaching King Robert Baratheon, the series is calling back to its beginning, suggesting (at least for now) that the wheel continues to turn, sending us back into a pattern begun seven seasons prior.

Usage notes[edit]

The term hark back originates from a hunting command to hounds to listen and go back. Thus, some people regard the substitution of hark with hearken to be incorrect.[1]

Alternative forms[edit]


  1. ^ See, for example, Don Hoeferkamp (31 January 2011), “Harking Back/Hearkening Back”, in A Lighthearted Book of Common Errors, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Trafford Publishing, →ISBN, page 33.