lis·​ten | \ ˈli-sᵊn How to pronounce listen (audio) \
listened; listening\ ˈlis-​niŋ How to pronounce listening (audio) , ˈli-​sᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of listen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to pay attention to sound listen to music
2 : to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration listen to a plea
3 : to be alert to catch an expected sound listen for his step

transitive verb

archaic : to give ear to : hear



Definition of listen (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of listening

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Synonyms & Antonyms for listen

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of listen in a Sentence

Verb I listened as hard as I could, but I couldn't hear a word of what he said over all that noise. She listened with interest as he told her about his travels. She tried to warn him of the dangers, but he wouldn't listen.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The album was also only available to listen to on the now-defunct website, not platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Donald Glover's Surprise New Album Will Feature Ariana Grande, SZA, and More," 16 Mar. 2020 My favorite music to listen to on Easter is hip hop. Hannah Jeon, Good Housekeeping, "45 Egg-Cellent Easter Puns That Will Have You Cracking Up," 12 Mar. 2020 My willingness to listen and learn combined with my business background will serve our community well. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Oconomowoc mayoral race: Alderman faces off with a political newcomer who is a longtime city resident," 3 Mar. 2020 Pronouncements from on high, no matter how well meaning, only have effect if people listen—and Johnston’s staffers took his words to heart. Harvey Solomon, Smithsonian Magazine, "When the Greenbrier and Other Appalachian Resorts Became Prisons for Axis Diplomats," 21 Feb. 2020 Yet urban planners arrogantly refuse to listen to what commuters want while pouring money into fashionable light rail systems that people use the least. Stephen Moore, Washington Examiner, "Mass transit is making gridlock worse," 27 Feb. 2020 Fans got the chance to listen to a snippet of it a day before the album was released on TikTok, a first for the hit platform, and even caused the app to crash once it was posted. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "BTS's "ON" Lyrics Talk About All the Sacrifices They Have Made to Become Superstars," 21 Feb. 2020 Journalists listening to Tedros’s press conference tweeted that the virus finally had a name, COVID-19, only to correct themselves moments later. Martin Enserink, Science | AAAS, "‘A bit chaotic.’ Christening of new coronavirus and its disease name create confusion," 12 Feb. 2020 About 46% of Indian users feel voice assistants on their devices are recording and listening to their conversation. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "Indians are suspicious of voice assistants, but not enough to forgo their convenience," 10 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To listen online: visit the Oregon State baseball schedule page at and click the listen tab for tonight’s game. oregonlive, "Oregon State Beavers baseball vs. UC Santa Barbara: Live updates, how to stream online and listen," 7 Mar. 2020 Take a listen: Plus, Hale was also featured on a holiday album called A Hollywood Christmas which would connect to the Christmas lights in the most recent clue package. Ariana Brockington,, "Did We Just Figure Out Who The Elusive Kitty Is On The Masked Singer?," 5 Mar. 2020 Distinctly un-Disneyish is the exceptional score by Dan Romer and Zeitlin, which imparts enormous local flavor and, upon a first listen, would seem to deserve special attention on its own. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Wendy': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 And the legendary British band are giving fans a first listen, with a two-part live performance to be streamed online from the Middle East. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Coldplay's Jordan Concerts For 'Everyday Life': Watch Here," 21 Nov. 2019 To take full advantage, your special podcast addict will need a versatile mount to keep those listens at their fingertips. Ryan Perry, Popular Science, "Gifts for the person who’d rather listen to podcasts than talk to you," 8 Dec. 2019 The first listen hurts, but the second listen is oddly comforting knowing his legacy will live on. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "The Best New Songs of 2020 From Mac Miller to Selena Gomez," 17 Jan. 2020 During an intimate show in Los Angeles presented by New Music Daily and Apple Music on Saturday night, Cabello gave fans a first listen of her upcoming third album, Romance. Darlene Aderoju,, "Camila Cabello Opens Up About Falling for Shawn Mendes — and Their San Francisco PDA — in New Song," 4 Nov. 2019 In India, Audioboom has a sticky run-rate of ~3.5 million listens each month. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "India’s podcast buzz is now getting loud and clear," 18 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'listen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of listen


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1788, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for listen

Verb and Noun

Middle English listnen, from Old English hlysnan; akin to Sanskrit śroṣati he hears, Old English hlūd loud

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Time Traveler for listen

Time Traveler

The first known use of listen was before the 12th century

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Statistics for listen

Last Updated

19 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for listen


How to pronounce listen (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of listen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said, sung, played, etc.
used to tell a person to listen to what you are saying
: to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true



English Language Learners Definition of listen (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of listening to something


lis·​ten | \ ˈli-sᵊn How to pronounce listen (audio) \
listened; listening

Kids Definition of listen

1 : to pay attention in order to hear Are you listening to me?
2 : to hear and consider seriously He listened to his father's advice.

Other Words from listen

listener \ ˈlis-​nər , ˈli-​sᵊn-​ər \ noun

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for listen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with listen

Spanish Central: Translation of listen

Nglish: Translation of listen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of listen for Arabic Speakers

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