be all ears, Informal. to give all one's attention; listen: We were all ears as the scandal was revealed.
    bend an ear, to listen attentively: to bend an ear to a request for aid.
    bend someone's ear, Informal. to talk to someone uninterruptedly and often so as to induce boredom: He'll bend your ear for hours if given the chance.
    by ear, without reference to written or printed music: to play the piano by ear.
    fall on deaf ears, to be disregarded; pass unheeded: Their pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears.
    give ear, to pay attention; listen carefully.Also lend an ear.
    go in one ear and out the other, to be heard but ignored; be put out of mind: My repeated warnings to her went in one ear and out the other.
    have/keep one's ear to the ground, to keep well-informed about current trends; be shrewd or astute: Because she had her ear to the ground, she made a large fortune in stock speculation.
    have one's ears on, Slang. to be listening to a CB radio, police radio, walkie-talkie, etc.
    pin someone's ears back, Slang. to give a person a sound beating; defeat a person utterly: If he doesn't behave himself, I'll pin his ears back.
    set by the ears, to cause to dispute or quarrel: He's a troublemaker who keeps trying to set the two other children by the ears.
    set on one's ear/ears, to excite or stir up; shock; amaze: The presence of the movie star set the whole town on its ear.
    turn a deaf ear to, to refuse to listen to or consider (a request, petition, etc.): He turns a deaf ear to requests for loans.
    up to one's ears, deeply involved or occupied to full capacity: We are up to our ears in work.
    wet behind the ears. wet(def 19).

Origin of ear

before 900; Middle English ere, Old English ēare; cognate with Old Norse eyra, German Ohr, Gothic auso, Latin auris, Lithuanian ausìs, Greek oûs
Related formsear·less, adjectiveear·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for bend someone's ear




the organ of hearing and balance in higher vertebrates and of balance only in fishes. In man and other mammals it consists of three partsSee external ear, middle ear, internal ear Related adjectives: aural, otic
the outermost cartilaginous part of the ear (pinna) in mammals, esp man
the sense of hearing
sensitivity to musical sounds, poetic diction, etche has an ear for music
attention, esp favourable attention; consideration; heed (esp in the phrases give ear to, lend an ear)
an object resembling the external ear in shape or position, such as a handle on a jug
Also called (esp Brit): earpiece a display box at the head of a newspaper page, esp the front page, for advertisements, etc
all ears very attentive; listening carefully
by ear without reading from written music
chew someone's ear slang to reprimand severely
fall on deaf ears to be ignored or pass unnoticed
have hard ears Caribbean to be stubbornly disobedient
a flea in one's ear informal a sharp rebuke
have the ear of to be in a position to influencehe has the ear of the president
in one ear and out the other heard but unheeded
keep one's ear to the ground or have one's ear to the ground to be or try to be well informed about current trends and opinions
make a pig's ear of informal to ruin disastrously
one's ears are burning one is aware of being the topic of another's conversation
out on one's ear informal dismissed unceremoniously
play by ear
  1. to act according to the demands of a situation rather than to a plan; improvise
  2. to perform a musical piece on an instrument without written music
prick up one's ears to start to listen attentively; become interested
set by the ears to cause disagreement or commotion
a thick ear informal a blow on the ear delivered as punishment, in anger, etc
turn a deaf ear to be deliberately unresponsive
up to one's ears informal deeply involved, as in work or debt
wet behind the ears informal inexperienced; naive; immature
Derived Formsearless, adjectiveearlike, adjective

Word Origin for ear

Old English ēare; related to Old Norse eyra, Old High German ōra, Gothic ausō, Greek ous, Latin auris




the part of a cereal plant, such as wheat or barley, that contains the seeds, grains, or kernels


(intr) (of cereal plants) to develop such parts

Word Origin for ear

Old English ēar; related to Old High German ahar, Old Norse ax, Gothic ahs ear, Latin acus chaff, Greek akros pointed
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 bend someone's ear



"organ of hearing," Old English eare "ear," from Proto-Germanic *auzon (cf. Old Norse eyra, Danish øre, Old Frisian are, Old Saxon ore, Middle Dutch ore, Dutch oor, Old High German ora, German Ohr, Gothic auso), from PIE *ous- with a sense of "perception" (cf. Greek aus, Latin auris, Lithuanian ausis, Old Church Slavonic ucho, Old Irish au "ear," Avestan usi "the two ears").

The belief that itching or burning ears means someone is talking about you is mentioned in Pliny's "Natural History" (77 C.E.). Until at least the 1880s, even some medical men still believed piercing the ear lobes improved one's eyesight. Meaning "handle of a pitcher" is mid-15c. (but cf. Old English earde "having a handle"). To be wet behind the ears "naive" is implied from 1914. Phrase walls have ears attested from 1610s. Ear-bash (v.) is Australian slang (1944) for "to talk inordinately" (to someone).



"grain part of corn," from Old English ear (West Saxon), æher (Northumbrian) "spike, ear of grain," from Proto-Germanic *akhaz (genitive *akhizaz; cf. Dutch aar, Old High German ehir, German Ähre, Old Norse ax, Gothic ahs "ear of corn"), from PIE root *ak- "sharp, pointed" (cf. Latin acus "husk of corn," Greek akoste "barley;" see acrid).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bend someone's ear in Medicine




The organ of hearing, responsible for maintaining equilibrium as well as sensing sound and divided into the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.
The part of this organ that is externally visible.
The sense of hearing.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

bend someone's ear in Science



The vertebrate organ of hearing, which in mammals is usually composed of three parts: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The organs of balance are also located in the ear.
An invertebrate organ analogous to the vertebrate ear.



The seed-bearing spike of a cereal plant, such as corn or wheat.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

bend someone's ear in Culture


The organ of hearing, which also plays a role in maintaining balance. It is divided into the outer ear (from the outside to the eardrum), the middle ear, and the inner ear.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with bend someone's ear

bend someone's ear

Talk about a matter at tedious length; monopolize someone's attention. For example, Aunt Mary is always bending his ear about her financial problems. This term may have come from the much older to bend one's ear to someone, meaning “to listen to someone,” although the current phrase implies a less than willing audience. [Colloquial; c. 1940]


In addition to the idioms beginning with ear

  • early bird catches the worm
  • early on
  • early to bed, early to rise (makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise)
  • earn one's keep
  • earn one's stripes
  • ears are burning, one's
  • ear to the ground, have one's

also see:

  • all ears
  • believe one's ears
  • bend someone's ear
  • can't make a silk purse out of sow's ear
  • coming out of one's ears
  • cute as a button (bug's ear)
  • fall on deaf ears
  • flea in one's ear
  • have someone's ear
  • in one ear and out the other
  • lend one's ear
  • music to one's ears
  • out on one's ear
  • pin someone's ears back
  • play by ear
  • prick up one's ears
  • put a bug in someone's ear
  • turn a deaf ear
  • up to one's ears
  • walls have ears
  • wet behind the ears
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.