over·​hear | \ ˌō-vər-ˈhir \
overheard\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈhərd \; overhearing\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈhir-​iŋ \

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

The fear of someone overhearing your business calendar as it’s being read to you should go away with the Surface Headphones. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Hands-on with Microsoft's Surface Headphones: tune out the outside world to focus," 3 Oct. 2018 And while Markle didn’t officially address the guests, the Daily Mail reports that she was overheard talking to Australian TV personality Eddie Woo, who told her about his own kids. Dan Barna, Glamour, "Prince Harry Had a Very Sweet Reaction to Meghan Markle’s Pregnancy," 16 Oct. 2018 Drinking at the bar at the Willard InterContinental Hotel, police said he was overheard plotting — perhaps in a boozy swagger — to jump the White House fence. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, "A stolen shot of $1,200 whiskey just the start of man’s bar travels across the District, police say," 29 Mar. 2018 Roseville High School was put on lockdown Wednesday after a student overheard a conversation in which a gun was mentioned, the Roseville Police Department reports. Anthony Sorci And Cathy Locke, sacbee, "Gun talk prompts lockdown of Roseville High School | The Sacramento Bee," 21 Mar. 2018 Cordie's boyfriend overheard her fighting with her mother in a cellphone call that provided a narrow timeframe for the death, Berry said. Gillian Flaccus, Fox News, "DA: Missing woman died instantly in jump from mom's car," 27 Sep. 2018 Kaleb overheard his mother discuss the request and became curious. Matt Stevens, The Seattle Times, "12-year-old raises thousands of dollars for his best friend’s gravestone," 12 Dec. 2018 Unfortunately, Stacey and Dawn overheard Arthie’s idea to reinvent her character, and steal it to ditch their old lady personas and become the Toxic Twins. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "R29 Binge Club: Glow Season 2, Episodes 1-10," 29 June 2018 Ever sit on your porch and overhear a neighbor strumming guitar on another porch? Kathy Shiels Tully, BostonGlobe.com, "Find your groove along the streets of Somerville during Porchfest," 4 May 2018

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

14 Feb 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 \
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

What made you want to look up overhear? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to set apart or to segregate

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