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overhear

[oh-ver-heer]
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verb (used with object), o·ver·heard, o·ver·hear·ing.
  1. to hear (speech or a speaker) without the speaker's intention or knowledge: I accidentally overheard what they were saying.
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Origin of overhear

First recorded in 1540–50; over- + hear
Related formso·ver·hear·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for overheard

overhear

verb -hears, -hearing or -heard
  1. (tr) to hear (a person, remark, etc) without the knowledge of the speaker
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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 overheard

overhear

v.

"to hear what one is not meant to hear," 1540s, from over- + hear. The notion is perhaps "to hear beyond the intended range of the voice." Old English oferhieran also meant "to not listen, to disregard, disobey" (cf. overlook for negative force of over; also Middle High German überhaeren, Middle Dutch overhoren in same sense). Related: Overheard; overhearing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper