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

Essential Meaning of listen

1 : to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said, sung, played, etc. 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.
2 used to tell a person to listen to what you are saying Listen, no one is more concerned about this problem than I am.Now listen (here), you can't keep treating people this way.
3 : to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true She tried to warn him of the dangers, but he wouldn't listen.

Full 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

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 These dogs are especially trained to listen quietly as children read a favorite story or the chapter of a favorite book to them., 13 Jan. 2022 And what may work at Zion may not necessarily work at Acadia, but there are opportunities to listen to both sides and figure out what elements do. Eve Chen, USA TODAY, 13 Jan. 2022 It’s time for cities to take the lead and for the world to listen to their experiences. Fortune, 13 Jan. 2022 The exhibition will lean into technology and is partnering with Snapchat to integrate the company’s augmented reality technology to enable attendees to listen to the music while viewing the artworks. Abid Rahman, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Jan. 2022 What was your favorite holiday movie or song to listen to during the season? Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 12 Jan. 2022 In 2021, word broke that music fans would finally be able to listen to Aaliyah's full discography on various streaming platforms. Ineye Komonibo,, 10 Jan. 2022 Kids have the capacity to listen to the same thing over and over, and Tonies don’t offer a great deal of content. Simon Hill, Wired, 10 Jan. 2022 Granted, the here means Iran, and, in place of an ugly clash between Jewish and Christian jurisdictions, the legal and theological backdrop is exclusively Islamic; but listen to the tenor of the talk. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 7 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Drip Harder co-star Lil Baby, is the real head-knocker upon first listen. Jason Lipshutz, Billboard, 7 Jan. 2022 Most importantly, the Fit Pro provides an enjoyable listen. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, 15 Dec. 2021 Each twist and turn on this record takes the listener through varied nuances of the metal world and offered a new, exciting experience with every repeat listen., 26 Dec. 2021 Armstrong invited Schwartzman to Airtime for a listen. Rory Appleton, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Nov. 2021 Clocking in at nine songs, Ride Through the Rain is an easy listen for an autumn afternoon. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, 9 Nov. 2021 Nobody knew what to expect next during Dylan’s wild-card Eighties period, which has been getting a closer listen of late thanks to the Springtime in New York set. Will Hermes, Rolling Stone, 9 Dec. 2021 What follows instead is a pivotal listen that conveys trauma in an assured yet disarming way. Leah Greenblatt,, 8 Dec. 2021 This is a fabulously accessible listen, funny, touching and uplifting. David Phelan, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021

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

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for listen


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

More from Merriam-Webster on listen

Nglish: Translation of listen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of listen for Arabic Speakers


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