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

Definition of overhear

transitive verb

: to hear without the speaker's knowledge or intention

intransitive verb

: to overhear something

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Some officers also use cellphones to avoid calls being overheard by the bad guys. Gary Richards, The Mercury News, "Idling cop cars need to be cool on hot days: Roadshow," 30 June 2019 But the comments weren't caught on camera or overheard by bystanders. Dakin Andone, CNN, "This group found thousands of offensive Facebook comments by police. Here's what you should know," 20 June 2019 Randomly talking in the middle of the night can be pretty jarring for anyone who overhears you, but sleep talking itself isn’t a major reason to worry. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "9 Types of Parasomnias That Might Explain That Weird Thing You Do When You Sleep," 5 June 2019 The room, however, is bugged, and the host can overhear the contestants’ plan and adapt his hat-placement choices accordingly. Quanta Magazine, "Solution: A Hat Trick + 1 of Hat Puzzles," 23 Mar. 2016 During the trial, senior assistant district attorney James Fayette pointed to a history of explosive arguments between the two, which neighbors often overheard and which were described under oath as including violent threats from him. USA Today, "Alaska is considered the deadliest state for women. A staggering 59% of women there have experienced violence.," 25 June 2019 After the accuracy test, according to Callanen, Brehm and her friends refused to leave, sitting a few feet away from the receptionist, watching people who entered the building and overhearing office conversations. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Elections administrator on GOP chair: ‘She was out of control’," 12 June 2019 In one of Last Black Man’s scenes, Jimmie overhears two white women disparaging San Francisco on the bus. Collier Meyerson, WIRED, "The Last Black Man Searches for ‘Authenticity’ but There Is None," 6 June 2019 In a video shared on Twitter by Daily Mail royal correspondent and all-around royal expert Rebecca English, Kate can be overheard talking about her preference for bacon over pepperoni as a pizza topping. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Shared Her Very Controversial Pizza Topping Preference," 19 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overhear.' 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 overhear

1549, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Statistics for overhear

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overhear

The first known use of overhear was in 1549

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More Definitions for overhear



English Language Learners Definition of overhear

: to hear (something that was said to another person) by accident


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

Kids Definition of overhear

: to hear something by accident without the speaker's knowledge

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More from Merriam-Webster on overhear

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overhear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overhear

Spanish Central: Translation of overhear

Nglish: Translation of overhear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overhear for Arabic Speakers

Comments on overhear

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