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  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈlɪs.nɪŋ/, /ˈlɪs.ə.nɪŋ/
  • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English listnynge, lustninde, from Old English hlysnende, equivalent to listen +‎ -ing.


listening (not comparable)

  1. Of something or someone that listens.
    Any listening person can tell she's lying.
  2. Of something that is used in order to hear or to improve the ability to hear.
    He could hear better when he used his listening device.
  3. Of an action that is performed with caution and attention to sounds.



  1. present participle of listen
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English listnynge, lustnynge, lystenynge, equivalent to listen +‎ -ing.


listening (plural listenings)

  1. Action of the verb listening
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter X, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 4293071:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
  2. An educational exercise involving listening
    OK, students, today we're going to do a couple of listenings about the environment, then a reading about crime.
  3. Skill or ability of perceiving spoken language.
    You can improve your listening well by watching English-language films.