• synonyms


or hark·en

[hahr-kuh n]
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verb (used without object)
  1. Literary. to give heed or attention to what is said; listen.
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verb (used with object)
  1. Archaic. to listen to; hear.
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Origin of hearken

1150–1200; Middle English hercnen, Old English he(o)rcnian, suffixed form of assumed *heorcian; see hark, -en1
Related formsheark·en·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for hearkening

Historical Examples

  • I could see no one; but, hearkening about, I found it must come from the next terrace.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • Shame on a gentleman for hearkening to the foul-mouthed villains one moment.

    Two Penniless Princesses

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • But now I think I see you listening and hearkening that I should name him.

  • Go away, missis; I've nought to do with you, either in hearkening, or talking.

    Mary Barton

    Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

  • But the men-folk gave all their ears to hearkening, and stood as close as they might.

British Dictionary definitions for hearkening


sometimes US harken

  1. archaic to listen to (something)
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Derived Formshearkener, noun

Word Origin

Old English heorcnian; see hark
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 hearkening


Old English heorcnunge "harkening, listening, power of hearing" (see hearken).

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Old English heorcnian, a suffixed form of *heorcian, root of hark; from Proto-Germanic *hausjan (see hear). Harken is the usual spelling in U.S. and probably is better justified by etymology; hearken likely is from influence of hear.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper