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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.
Derived terms[edit]



  1. present participle and gerund of listen
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter X, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      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.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

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


listening (plural listenings)

  1. An act by which something or somebody is listened to.
    This symphony grows on me more and more with each listening.
    • 2010 May 3, Michael Senior, “CD Review: Massive Attack, "Heligoland"”, in The Oklahoman[1], archived from the original on 2024-01-03:
      It is an album that rewards multiple listenings.
  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.
Derived terms[edit]