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listen

[lis-uh n]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear.
  2. to pay attention; heed; obey (often followed by to): Children don't always listen to their parents.
  3. to wait attentively for a sound (usually followed by for): to listen for sounds of their return.
  4. Informal. to convey a particular impression to the hearer; sound: The new recording doesn't listen as well as the old one.
verb (used with object)
  1. Archaic. to give ear to; hear.
Verb Phrases
  1. listen in,
    1. to listen to a radio or television broadcast: Listen in tomorrow for the names of the lottery winners.
    2. to overhear a conversation or communication, especially by telephone; eavesdrop: Someone was listening in to his private calls.

Origin of listen

before 950; Middle English lis(t)nen, Old English hlysnan; cognate with Middle High German lüsenen, Swedish lyssna; akin to list5
Related formslis·ten·er, nounre·lis·ten, verbun·lis·ten·ing, adjective

Synonyms

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1. See hear.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for listen

listen

verb (intr)
  1. to concentrate on hearing something
  2. to take heed; pay attentionI told you many times but you wouldn't listen
Derived Formslistener, noun

Word Origin

Old English hlysnan; related to Old High German lūstrēn
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

Word Origin and History for listen

v.

Old English hlysnan "to listen," from Proto-Germanic *khlusinon (cf. Dutch luisteren, Old High German hlosen "to listen," German lauschen "to listen"), from PIE root *kleu- "hearing, to hear" (cf. Sanskrit srnoti "hears," srosati "hears, obeys;" Avestan sraothra "ear;" Middle Persian srod "hearing, sound;" Lithuanian klausau "to hear," slove "splendor, honor;" Old Church Slavonic slusati "to hear," slava "fame, glory," slovo "word;" Greek klyo "hear, be called," kleos "report, rumor, fame glory," kleio "make famous;" Latin cluere "to hear oneself called, be spoken of;" Old Irish ro-clui-nethar "hears," clunim "I hear," clu "fame, glory," cluada "ears;" Welsh clywaf "I hear;" Old English hlud "loud," hleoðor "tone, tune;" Old High German hlut "sound;" Gothic hiluþ "listening, attention"). The -t- probably is by influence of Old English hlystan (see list (v.2)). For vowel evolution, see bury. As a noun from 1788 (on the listen "alert").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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