over·​hear ˌō-vər-ˈhir How to pronounce overhear (audio)
overheard ˌō-vər-ˈhərd How to pronounce overhear (audio) ; overhearing ˌō-vər-ˈhir-iŋ How to pronounce overhear (audio)

transitive verb

: to hear without the speaker's knowledge or intention

intransitive verb

: to overhear something

Examples of overhear in a Sentence

She overheard what her boss said to his secretary. I overheard a rumor about you. They were overheard discussing the project.
Recent Examples on the Web But the Niners celebrated far too early, the overconfidence overheard by the Lions in the halftime locker room, which wasn't separated by much more than some drywall in those days. Detroit Free Press, 21 Jan. 2024 Owner Mike Draper told the Des Moines Register last week that the designs were inspired by a quote overheard on a New York subway and emailed to Raygun. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 16 Jan. 2024 Multiple times, various Black characters overhear him: a doctor who accidentally shaves Jeff bald while distracted, and the family Larry took in after they were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Ben Rosenstock, TIME, 2 Feb. 2024 Another mutual friend overheard a conversation in which this woman called me ugly and my family members weird, and now the atmosphere between us is tense. Harriette Cole, The Mercury News, 13 Jan. 2024 Detectives believe Halpern overheard something at the gym that lead to his murder. Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel, 17 Jan. 2024 There was no air conditioning, so people had to throw their windows open and risk all of their dinnertime conversations being overheard. Marissa Evans, Los Angeles Times, 16 Jan. 2024 My Feelings focuses on a woman overhearing her husband’s honest reaction to her new book, teasing out all the little ways long-term partners hurt each other—and, eventually, make up. The Glamour Editors, Glamour, 26 Dec. 2023 This was reportedly overheard by several teachers, staff members and students, according to the officer who responded to the incident. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 15 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1549, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of overhear was in 1549

Dictionary Entries Near overhear

Cite this Entry

“Overhear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overhear. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


over·​hear ˌō-vər-ˈhi(ə)r How to pronounce overhear (audio)
overheard -ˈhərd How to pronounce overhear (audio) ; overhearing -ˈhi(ə)r-iŋ How to pronounce overhear (audio)
: to hear without the speaker's knowledge or intention

More from Merriam-Webster on overhear

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