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) \

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 Steve exchanged looks with Andrea, who sat close enough to overhear. Allegra Goodman, The New Yorker, "A Challenge You Have Overcome," 18 Jan. 2021 In a world where the only conversations most of us can overhear are family members’ and roommates' work calls, Bridgerton is a decadent feast of whispers and double-entendres. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan Has Some Secrets She’ll Never Tell — Or Will She?," 29 Dec. 2020 Speakers don’t have to overhear crimes or confessions to be useful to investigators. Sidney Fussell, Wired, "How Your Digital Trails Wind Up in the Police’s Hands," 28 Dec. 2020 Oftentimes, one group would overhear another, and the conversation would spill over into a new subject. Tarun Wadhwa, Fortune, "Innovation just isn’t happening over Zoom," 17 Dec. 2020 You overhear people saying two poll workers called in sick with COVID-19 symptoms, causing the backup. Caitlin Rublee And René Settle-robinson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opinion: Two Milwaukee doctors prescribe voting from home during the coronavirus pandemic," 25 Sep. 2020 If Manafort was indeed the target of electronic surveillance, those around Trump feared, federal law enforcement officials might overhear his conversations with the president. Murray Waas, The New York Review of Books, "The Trump Obstruction of Justice Mueller Missed?," 17 Aug. 2020 The 911 operators could overhear shocked bystanders. Mark Obbie, Longreads, "“We Are Not Lost Causes”," 10 Mar. 2020 Abusers may also direct comments at children that are meant for parents to overhear, potentially retraumatizing those abused by their ex. Jessica Klein, The Atlantic, "Virtual Parental Visitation Could Have Unintended Consequences for Abuse Survivors," 23 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for overhear

Time Traveler

The first known use of overhear was in 1549

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Statistics for overhear

Cite this Entry

“Overhear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overhear. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on overhear

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