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[hahrk] /hɑrk/
verb (used without object)
to listen attentively; hearken.
verb (used with object)
Archaic. to listen to; hear.
a hunter's shout to hounds, as to encourage them in following the scent.
Verb phrases
hark back,
  1. (of hounds) to return along the course in order to regain a lost scent.
  2. to return to a previous subject or point; revert:
    He kept harking back to his early days in vaudeville.
Origin of hark
1175-1225; Middle English herken, earlier herkien, Old English *heorcian; cognate with Old Frisian herkia, harkia; akin to Middle Dutch harken, Middle High German, German horchen. See hearken, hear
Related forms
unharked, adjective
4b. refer, allude; regress, retrogress. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hark back
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You hark back to the different construction we put on her appearance that evening?

    Embarrassments Henry James
  • But I am anticipating, and must hark back to the anchor with the flukes of pearl.

    Jewel Mysteries Max Pemberton
  • hark back to your well-thumbed Lavengro and you will find, if you do not remember, his reasons.

    Tommy Wideawake H. H. Bashford
  • And if we find ourselves on the wrong tack why then we'll hark back.

    Hard Cash Charles Reade
  • The convict had lost the thread of his examination, and had to hark back.

    When Ghost Meets Ghost

    William Frend De Morgan
  • “Yes, you hark back,” the young man laughed, thankful for a formula.

    Lady Barbarina Henry James
  • We must hark back on our own tracks first thing in the morning.

    The Shadow of a Man E. W. Hornung
  • As for the primitive, I hark back to it because we are still very primitive.

British Dictionary definitions for hark back

hark back

(intransitive, adverb) to return to an earlier subject, point, or position, as in speech or thought


(intransitive; usually imperative) to listen; pay attention
Word Origin
Old English heorcnian to hearken; related to Old Frisian herkia, Old High German hōrechen; see hear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hark back



late 12c., from Old English *heorcian, perhaps an intensive form from base of hieran (see hear). Cf. talk/tale. Cognate with Old Frisian harkia "listen," Middle Dutch horken, Old High German horechon, German horchen. To hark back (1829) originally referred to hounds returning along a track when the scent has been lost, till they find it again. Related: Harked; harking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with hark back

hark back

Return to a previous point, as in Let us hark back briefly to my first statement. This expression originally alluded to hounds retracing their course when they have lost their quarry's scent. It may be dying out. [ First half of 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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