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 Anne Gauthier, right, head engineer at La La Land Studio, makes an adjustment while members and friends of the band Curio Key Club listen to the playback of a recording. Scott Utterback,, "Louisville, from dusk to dawn: What we captured while the city was seemingly asleep," 11 Feb. 2020 Gomez said he’s been inspired by listening to Ocasio-Cortez speak this way. Time, "'We Went All In.' Inside Bernie Sanders' Plan to Win By Reaching Latino Voters," 31 Jan. 2020 The ability to listen and practice vulnerability are two of Pisces' greatest characteristics. Amani Richardson,, "Before Venus Leaves Pisces, Put That Energy Into Your Sex Life," 28 Jan. 2020 Shortly after her stepping out of the Grammy's stage, Demi revealed that the track was already available for fans to listen to and even released a new lyric video for the song. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Demi Lovato Started Tearing Up During Her Heartfelt 2020 Grammy Awards Performance," 27 Jan. 2020 Bars like Gold Line in L.A.’s Highland Park can get loud on Saturday nights, but the audiophile crowd turns out every day to listen to owner Peanut Butter Wolf’s 8,000-record collection (there are no iPhones with Spotify plugged in here). Dakota Kim, Sunset Magazine, "A Guide to Going Out for Introverts," 23 Jan. 2020 Here’s a toolkit of resources to read, watch, listen to, and follow in order to better understand how games are changing the world. Mary Pilon, Quartz, "The books, people, and podcasts to help you gamify your life," 22 Jan. 2020 Ask them about themselves, and be willing to listen. Lucy Parks, Outside Online, "How Being LGBTQ Affected My AT Thru-Hike," 22 Jan. 2020 Parents and caregivers must be willing to sit, listen and try to fully understand what is most upsetting for a child who is experiencing a difficult situation and a lot of emotions. Rheeda Walker, The Conversation, "Black kids and suicide: Why are rates so high, and so ignored?," 17 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Video screens play iconic episodes or recorded interviews with Rogers that are worth a listen. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "It’s a beautiful day in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood: The town of Latrobe, Pa.," 8 Dec. 2019 The songs of Alanis Morissette‘s breakthrough debut album Jagged Little Pill have inspired a new Broadway musical of the same name, and PEOPLE has a first listen of the show’s original cast recording. Dave Quinn,, "First Listen: Stream Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill Broadway Musical Cast Recording," 28 Nov. 2019 Take a listen to the hilarious conversation in the clip below. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "Summer Walker Says She's Over Lace Front Wigs," 11 Oct. 2019 The downtown venue was packed with Houston music lovers, looking for an enlightening listen. Alison Medley, Houston Chronicle, "Thievery Corporation brings sonic dreamscapes and reggae sound to Houston fans," 17 Nov. 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

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on listen

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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