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 This can cut both ways: A seller might take a shine to a family with a baby — or overhear a prospective buyer commenting about hideous wallpaper or an unfortunate kitchen color scheme. BostonGlobe.com, 9 May 2021 Only Chip fielded the phone calls, awkward, monosyllabic, for fear his mother would overhear and be hurt. Lauren Groff, The New Yorker, 27 Apr. 2021 Steve exchanged looks with Andrea, who sat close enough to overhear. Allegra Goodman, The New Yorker, 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, 29 Dec. 2020 Speakers don’t have to overhear crimes or confessions to be useful to investigators. Sidney Fussell, Wired, 28 Dec. 2020 Oftentimes, one group would overhear another, and the conversation would spill over into a new subject. Tarun Wadhwa, Fortune, 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, 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, 17 Aug. 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

Last Updated

17 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Overhear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overhear. Accessed 14 Jun. 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


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