View synonyms for listen


[ lis-uhn ]

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 phrase

    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.


/ ˈlɪsən /


  1. to concentrate on hearing something
  2. to take heed; pay attention

    I told you many times but you wouldn't listen

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Derived Forms

  • ˈlistener, noun

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Other Words From

  • listen·er noun
  • re·listen verb
  • un·listen·ing adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of listen1

First recorded before 950; Middle English lis(t)nen, Old English hlysnan; cognate with Middle High German lüsenen, Swedish lyssna; akin to list 5

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Word History and Origins

Origin of listen1

Old English hlysnan; related to Old High German lūstrēn

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Synonym Study

See hear.

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Example Sentences

But if you listen to our leaders, they weren't the real targets here.

What an amazing thing to be able to listen to any music you want, a whole world of bands.

One of the rites of passage for every young political reporter is to listen to the elders tell stories about campaigns past.

But then I thought about the feedback I get from fans, yes we do listen to you, and thought why not?

Why would they listen to the radio when they can see the outside world?

But he walked up and down the room and forced himself to listen, though he could scarcely bear it, I could see.

Shopkeepers ran out of their shops, housewives craned over their balconies to listen to him.

I am always astonished, amazed and delighted afresh, and even as I listen I can hardly believe that the man can play so!

No one would listen to him but old Monsieur Farival, who went into convulsions over the droll story.

I knew, further, that Sunday could not be a day of rest for her, for of all his people she would have to listen to his preaching.