lis·​ten | \ ˈli-sᵊn How to pronounce listen (audio) \
listened; listening\ ˈlis-​niŋ How to pronounce listen (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 More than 200 people then crowded into two rooms to listen to 55 people speak during a public comment session. Washington Post, 24 July 2021 Read newspapers, magazines, listen to music and watch movies with a free eCard that can be used to access a wide variety of eContent from a computer or mobile device. Mary Lou Cruz,, 23 July 2021 Democrats have different information and listen to MSNBC. David M. Shribman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 July 2021 Until the day his grandfather died, the old man had told anyone who’d listen that Willie should have kept his mouth shut. Wright Thompson, The Atlantic, 22 July 2021 The school was previously criticized in 2016 after an investigation found students were forbidden to watch television, read newspapers or listen to music. Fox News, 21 July 2021 Bring a blanket and dinner and spread out on the grass to listen to the band do a free rehearsal. oregonlive, 21 July 2021 This is our way of connecting with each other as friends as much as connecting to the people that want to listen to it and feel the same things. Dan Reilly, Vulture, 21 July 2021 The government minister of youth, in her early 30s and herself a child of immigrants like many there, had come to listen. New York Times, 21 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Personally, one listen is like time-traveling back to when dance music felt really fresh. Katie Bain, Billboard, 1 July 2021 Fans got a first listen of Zendaya as Lola last month, in a 6-minute ad released by ESPN to promote the film. Jen Juneau,, 13 July 2021 So why not give the pod a listen and the maxim a try to boost your summer’s success rate? Pablo Goldstein, Vulture, 1 July 2021 Keyboardist and producer Mitchell Froom layers these recordings with details that yield fresh discoveries with each listen. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 June 2021 This is better than anything Avril Lavigne ever did, the kind of record that immediately leaves a mark and feels more like a year-end album-list contender with each listen. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, 2 June 2021 After a second listen, Williams began to notice that what really might be happening is Instagram framing a discussion panel as a way to get cheap high-level consultation from experts in the NFT space. Jackson Weimer, Forbes, 22 May 2021 Get your first listen to Dominic Toretto himself in BINGE's debut trailer, which can be seen above. Derek Lawrence,, 29 Apr. 2021 Song selection and sequencing are personalized for every user based on their listening habits, which Amazon says should offer fresh context on each listen. Micah Singleton, Billboard, 10 June 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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Dictionary Entries Near listen




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Statistics for listen

Last Updated

26 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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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

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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