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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Below, listen to our conversation and watch the trailer for the film, which is due in theaters Dec. 21. Katie Atkinson, Billboard, 20 Sep. 2022 For more on Queen Elizabeth's funeral, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2022 But instead of listening to talk radio or music on their commutes, Lee would listen to audiotapes of his father arguing cases before the Supreme Court. Mark Eddington, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Sep. 2022 Here are more highlights; to hear the entire episode, listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or press play above. Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone, 19 Sep. 2022 For more from Megan Richards — as well as Entertainment Weekly's breakdown of each Rings of Power episode — listen to EW's new Lord of the Rings podcast, All Rings Considered. Devan Coggan,, 16 Sep. 2022 Your Echo device will listen for glass breaking, smoke alarms, or carbon monoxide alarms. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, 15 Sep. 2022 Like many 17-year-old high-school students today, Sarah Jenkins doesn’t listen to the Rolling Stones. Rebecca Picciotto, WSJ, 14 Sep. 2022 Kind of listen to all their press conferences and watched all those things, talked to a lot of people that have played there and been a part of that environment. Tom Green |, al, 13 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her testimony was corroborated by several witnesses at the trial, but her own testimony along with the viewing of the tapes by the jurors — and a brutal listen for those inside the courtroom who were not allowed to watch but heard them — resonated. Althea Legaspi, Rolling Stone, 14 Sep. 2022 Watch the video above to get your exclusive first listen to the new musical. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 13 July 2022 This podcast has a biology slant but makes a good listen for any kids interested in digging in the dirt, learning about animals, or listening to tales of the ecosystems in far-off lands. Scott Gilbertson, WIRED, 19 Aug. 2022 Megan’s second studio album, Traumazine, is a thrill ride of a listen, a motley mix of slick bops and searing confessionals that wonderfully encapsulate all of her various vibes. Will Dukes, Rolling Stone, 12 Aug. 2022 For years, the song simply took up space in a folder on Marx's laptop, until the accomplished singer/songwriter went back and gave it a listen one more time. Tricia Despres, Peoplemag, 12 Aug. 2022 Ahead of his 10th studio album Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind, The Game granted Billboard a sneak-peek listen during his studio session in Los Angeles last month. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, 11 Aug. 2022 From his criticism of Fed officials to his comments about supply chain chaos, Friedman’s Tuesday earnings call is definitely worth a listen. Will Daniel, Fortune, 30 Mar. 2022 The good people at the Library of Congress need to take another listen to his RCA recordings. Paul Grein, Billboard, 27 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 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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