[ lis-uhn ]
See synonyms for: listenlistenedlisteninglistener on

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.

  1. to wait attentively for a sound (usually followed by for): to listen for sounds of their return.

  2. 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 Phrases
  1. listen in,

    • to listen to a radio or television broadcast: Listen in tomorrow for the names of the lottery winners.

    • to overhear a conversation or communication, especially by telephone; eavesdrop: Someone was listening in to his private calls.

Origin of listen

First recorded before 950; Middle English lis(t)nen, Old English hlysnan; cognate with Middle High German lüsenen, Swedish lyssna; akin to list5

synonym study For listen

1. See hear.

Other words from listen

  • lis·ten·er, noun
  • re·lis·ten, verb
  • un·lis·ten·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use listen in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for listen


/ (ˈlɪsən) /

  1. to concentrate on hearing something

  2. to take heed; pay attention: I told you many times but you wouldn't listen

Origin of listen

Old English hlysnan; related to Old High German lūstrēn

Derived forms of listen

  • listener, noun

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