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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.
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verb (used with object)
  1. Archaic. to give ear to; hear.
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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.
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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

British Dictionary definitions for listen in

listen in

verb (intr, adverb often foll by to)
  1. to listen to the radio
  2. to intercept radio communications
  3. to listen but not contribute (to a discussion), esp surreptitiously
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listen

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

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").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with listen in

listen in

1

Hear or overhear the conversation of others; eavesdrop. It is also put as listen in on, as in She listened in on her parents and learned they were planning a surprise party. [Early 1900s]

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2

Tune in and listen to a broadcast, as in Were you listening in the other night when they played Beethoven's Fifth? [1920s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.