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)

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 Over the course of one week in mid-October, two people advised me to spend time listening to my body. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Mandy Moore's Definition of Wellness Goes Way Beyond Meditation and Supplements," 5 Nov. 2019 So listen carefully to your lover, and save discussions about relationship problems for times when the two of you are most attentive: when you are rested, sober and undistracted. David Z. Hambrick, Scientific American, "How Research on Working Memory Can Improve Your Romantic Relationship," 5 Nov. 2019 The rapper followed his wildly popular Sunday Service concert at Detroit's Aretha Franklin Amphitheater on Sept. 27, his would-be album release day, with a pop-up listening party for a couple thousand zealous fans hours later. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "Kanye West has finally released his 'Jesus Is King' album after many delays," 25 Oct. 2019 Rhodes reminisced about his childhood and teen years saying that back then, races weren’t on T.V. The only way to keep up with NASCAR was listening to Motorsports Racing Network, or MRN, reading, and talking with likeminded friends. Rebecca Angel Baer, Southern Living, "Talladega Superspeedway Celebrates 50 Years and One Alabama Man has been to all 100 Races," 16 Oct. 2019 Stroud finds a spot to listen near the Cincinnati Men's Choir, which is performing the song. Dan Horn,, "How moving a man and his store out of OTR proved worthy of song," 17 Sep. 2019 Dozens of university students rallied peacefully on Monday afternoon urging authorities to listen to public demands. NBC News, "Hong Kong reopens after weekend of clashes, protests," 16 Sep. 2019 The next time your boss makes an insensitive comment or doesn’t listen to ideas from certain team members, say something—and offer a solution. Jennifer Risi, Quartz at Work, "If you really want a diverse workforce, think smaller," 12 Sep. 2019 By rubbing the teeth of the comb across another structure called the medial tooth, the animals are able to create a sound similar to claw stridulation (listen below). David Shultz, Science | AAAS, "Listen to a ghost crab frighten away enemies—with its stomach rumbles," 10 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Sawyer Fredericks, who emerged victorious on the 8th season of The Voice, has released the title track from his upcoming album Sawyer Fredericks has released his latest work — and PEOPLE has an exclusive first listen. Darlene Aderoju,, "Voice Winner Sawyer Fredericks Releases Sweet New Song 'Flowers for You' from Upcoming 2020 Album," 8 Nov. 2019 For a morning boost, their 8:15 Second Date Update is always worth a listen., "2019 Orlando Sentinel Best Bets: Recreation & Entertainment winners," 5 Oct. 2019 After a few listens to the album, though, fans cracked the case buried in the lyrics on the first track on the album. Melissa Locker, Time, "You Probably Missed This Subtle Clue Taylor Swift Dropped for the Fans With Her Pin," 23 Aug. 2019 There's something to be said for songs that stand the test of time—in this case, several decades—and still hit close to home on every listen. Natalie Schumann, Country Living, "40 Classic Summer Country Songs That Never Get Old," 7 June 2019 Have a listen: Who is the Peacock on The Masked Singer? Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Get All 'The Masked Singer' Spoilers You Could Ever Want," 10 Jan. 2019 Non-heteronormative collective Brockhampton’s fifth album Ginger is an eclectic, tight-knit listen from start to finish, and track no. Jon Ali, Billboard, "Queer Necessities: Tove Lo, Brockhampton and More On Billboard Pride's September 2019 Playlist," 4 Sep. 2019 Attendees got an exclusive listen to the first episode which features singer and songwriter, Justine Skye. Ashley Rushford, Essence, "ESSENCE Fashion House NYC: Justine Skye Sits Down With Girls United For Podcast, “Magic Unfiltered”," 7 Sep. 2019 Rogan, the one who handed Elon Musk a spliff, on camera, and got him to smoke it, thus earning national headlines for himself and millions of listens for his advertisers, got played. Devin Gordon, The Atlantic, "I Tried to Live Like Joe Rogan," 19 Aug. 2019

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

13 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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More Definitions for listen


How to pronounce listen (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on listen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for listen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with listen

Spanish Central: Translation of listen

Nglish: Translation of listen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of listen for Arabic Speakers

Comments on listen

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strength of mind

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