or hark·en

[hahr-kuh n]

verb (used without object)

Literary. to give heed or attention to what is said; listen.

verb (used with object)

Archaic. to listen to; hear.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for hearkening

Historical Examples of hearkening

  • 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


archaic to listen to (something)
Derived Formshearkener, noun

Word Origin for hearken

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).



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper