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

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

archaic : to give ear to : hear


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: an act of listening

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Your abilities to articulate your point of view, listen to others and build strong relationships for interaction, will result in not only better confidence and credibility, but also career success. Tracy Brower, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 A lot of other people are listening to techno from their speakers on the street and making raves in underground passages. Nastya Platinova, SPIN, 21 Feb. 2024 In December, North dropped by her father’s listening party for his Vultures album. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 21 Feb. 2024 That might sound long, but the time flew by–I’d sometimes listen to a podcast, or have a long phone call with a friend, or just watch the city’s lights switch on as darkness fell. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 20 Feb. 2024 Younger kids can draw pictures or make gifts to send, and the sick parent can record messages or the child's favorite book to listen to at bedtime. Suzie Glassman, Parents, 20 Feb. 2024 The music is not blazing in your ears, but instead, is more like background listening. Carlos Rico, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Feb. 2024 His commanders listened, and the attack was a spectacular success. Shashank Joshi, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 When Oprah speaks, the world listens and our community cherishes her as an unapologetic ally, especially to transgender people. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Feb. 2024
Despite millions of listens on Apple Music and Spotify, the song hasn’t garnered enough streams to crack its way into top playlists on those platforms. Anne Branigin, Washington Post, 31 Jan. 2024 Every listen is a different experience for the listener, but some people rank music almost like athletics. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 1 Feb. 2024 These wireless Bluetooth headphones will fit comfortably inside his ears via their silicone tips and will keep outside noise out with each listen. Jenna Clark, Southern Living, 18 Jan. 2024 All said and done, for even semi-adventurous ears New Blue Sun is absolutely worth a listen. Jonathan Rowe, SPIN, 7 Dec. 2023 The following list, sorted alphabetically, includes rap songs found on Pitchfork’s main year-end tally as well as additional tracks that did not make that list but are still very much worth a listen. Pitchfork, 11 Dec. 2023 Ellis-Bextor, 44, participated in the trend on Dec. 31, which perhaps led more Spotify users to give the track a listen. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 3 Jan. 2024 Jason Lipshutz: No on the first listen, yes on the fifth listen. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 21 Nov. 2023 The music garnered millions of listens and eventually caught the attention of Alamo Records’ Moscowitz. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, 8 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'listen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use


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


1788, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near listen

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


listened; listening
: to pay attention in order to hear
listen for a signal
listen to a new CD
: to give heed : follow advice
listen to a warning

More from Merriam-Webster on listen

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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