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)

transitive verb

archaic : to give ear to : hear

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



Definition of listen (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of listening

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from listen


listener \ ˈlis-​nər How to pronounce listener (audio) , ˈli-​sᵊn-​ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for listen

Synonyms: Verb

attend, hark, harken, hear, hearken, heed, mind

Antonyms: Verb

ignore, tune out

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of listen in a Sentence


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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As for blocking out the noise, the Wallendas have been preparing mentally for this stunt and have spent extensive time on the top of 1 Times Square listening to all of the sounds. Kelsey Lentz, The Hollywood Reporter, "Nik Wallenda on Challenges of Times Square High-Wire Walk: "I Have Every Distraction in the World"," 23 June 2019 The new feature, dubbed Presenter Coach, will appear during a rehearsal mode for PowerPoint slides and offer feedback on your presentation skills by listening to audio from your computer’s microphone. Tom Warren, The Verge, "PowerPoint will listen to rehearsals to help you stop swearing and stuttering," 18 June 2019 Watch a sunset, listen to the birds, practice yoga or watch the clouds in a DuPage forest preserve. James Krause, Naperville Sun, "Head to a DuPage Forest Preserve park, trail or lake and be entered to win a prize," 12 June 2019 Above all, listen to your body and your gut instinct. Cynthia Sass, Rd,, "Can the Satiating Diet Help You Lose Weight? Here's What a Nutritionist Thinks," 10 June 2019 In one Oak Cliff home the family was clustered about the living room with all lights on, doors and windows open, everyone in sleeping clothes, too intent on listening to the radio to worry about appearances. Dallas News, "D-Day as Dallas lived it," 6 June 2019 As teams continue placing calls on Anthony Davis, Pelicans and executive VP David Griffin have begun listening to teams, league sources told @TheAthleticNBA. Andrew Lopez,, "Could Zion Williamson follow Anthony Davis’ path with USA Basketball?," 5 June 2019 Not a single one of us were alike, and yet by doing something as simple as listening to and respecting one another, we were challenged and made better. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "Chip and Joanna Gaines Just Attended a Business Class at Harvard With Ciara," 3 June 2019 After listening to Max Embers, Tebby Burrows, Sam James, and Ollie Gabriel perform their original work, John decided to dismiss Sam, and move forward with the other three writers. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Adam Levine's New Show 'Songland' Just Premiered and People Have a Lot of Feelings," 29 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Take a listen to Sarah Sanders answering this question for a reporter. Fox News, "Trump and Omarosa exchange barbs over bombshell book," 15 Aug. 2018 More often than not, however, Hunt tells a story that's worth a listen. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Indy 500 Legends Day: Country-pop star Sam Hunt makes Indianapolis Motor Speedway his own," 26 May 2018 From the Haunted Ballroom, and a short listen will prove that the title goes a long way in describing the music. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "The Caretaker’s Musical Project Is One Part Psychological Experiment, One Part Auditory Revelation," 14 Dec. 2018 All highly pretentious but highly satisfying listens. WSJ, "Why Venmo is the First App Frankie Shaw Checks in the Morning," 12 Dec. 2018 Michelle is a visiting lecturer in composition at Dartmouth, and her sound world is worth many listens. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Ensemble dal Niente pianist Mabel Kwan on a playful post-smartphone look at David," 10 Jan. 2018 Teen Vogue has your exclusive first listen of the single that Charlotte believes could be her most significant work to date. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Charlotte Lawrence Debuts "Keep Me Up (Anxiety Song)"," 10 May 2018 How would the proposal force the majority party in listen to the minority party? Rich Exner,, "Ohio Issue 1 Q&A: congressional redistricting and the ills of gerrymandering - Election preview," 3 May 2018 Nonetheless, take a listen and try not to hear the album’s influence on a good chunk of the indie rock bands from your college town in the early- to mid-2000s. Kevin Rutherford, Billboard, "Eight Less-Heard Debut Efforts From 1998's Rock Rookie Class -- And How They Stack Up Today," 31 May 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about listen

Dictionary Entries near listen








Statistics for listen

Last Updated

26 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for listen

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for listen



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on listen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with listen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for listen

Spanish Central: Translation of listen

Nglish: Translation of listen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of listen for Arabic Speakers

Comments on listen

What made you want to look up listen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!