lis·​ten | \ ˈli-sᵊn How to pronounce listen (audio) \
listened; listening\ ˈlis-​niŋ How to pronounce listen (audio) , ˈli-​sᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of listen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to pay attention to sound listen to music
2 : to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration listen to a plea
3 : to be alert to catch an expected sound listen for his step

transitive verb

archaic : to give ear to : hear



Definition of listen (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of listening

Synonyms & Antonyms for listen

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of listen in a Sentence

Verb I listened as hard as I could, but I couldn't hear a word of what he said over all that noise. She listened with interest as he told her about his travels. She tried to warn him of the dangers, but he wouldn't listen.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At the pop-up concert outside the cafe, wind threatened to blow sheet music away, and buses pulled in and out of the nearby terminal, but that didn’t deter the nearly 100 people who gathered to listen. Serena Puang,, 17 June 2022 To listen to the interview with Dave Hickey and other leaders, go to The CEO Forum. Robert Reiss, Forbes, 17 June 2022 Whether Dad wants to have an at-home jam session or listen to a pulse-pumping playlist during his workout, the right pair of headphones can be a gift that keeps on giving for years to come. Kelsey Mulvey, Men's Health, 17 June 2022 Within the walled city, 30 million visitors could sample Thomas Edison’s new gramophone, listen to live opera transmitted over telephone wires and observe teenage dancers depicting a Javanese epic. Stuart Isacoff, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Pageot, an accomplished pianist, keyboardist and accordionist who has toured with the likes of Diana Ross, Cher and Madonna, had never heard of Still — and was intrigued to listen to his symphony. Pamela Chelin, Los Angeles Times, 17 June 2022 What’s your favorite place to listen to and experience dance music? Katie Bain, Billboard, 17 June 2022 Hindi Storytime: Children and their families can listen to books, rhymes and songs in Hindi in a dual language storytime at 7 p.m. Michelle Mullins, Chicago Tribune, 17 June 2022 Be a part of a two-day celebratory festival, see a classic Baltimore musical, watch a wide selection of films, listen to a jazz concert or take your kid on an imaginary journey. John Coffren, Baltimore Sun, 16 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But the thrill is definitely when people in music listen. Derek Scancarelli, Forbes, 15 June 2022 The best thing about Songs is the way new favorites sneak up on you with every listen; its size practically guarantees there’ll always be one unexpected track that knocks you off your feet. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, 5 Apr. 2022 The resolve carried through the album has an enduring pleasure to it, one that’s familiar with every listen as numerous seasons in life, romance, and weather recur. Kovie Biakolo, Vulture, 24 Apr. 2021 Some episodes are funny, others skew poignant and all are a great listen. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 23 May 2022 An array of celebrities tuned in: Rihanna, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg popped in for a listen. Jonathan Landrum Jr., USA TODAY, 28 Mar. 2021 An array of celebrities tuned in: Rihanna, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg popped in for a listen. Jonathan Landrum Jr.,, 28 Mar. 2021 While a good deal of her discography surrounding relationships is whimsical – and even a tad self-deprecating – this project excavates her most vulnerable emotions and makes for a remarkable listen. The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Dec. 2020 Have a listen to multiple audio clips of the event, and judge for yourself. Kristen Waggoner, National Review, 21 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'listen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of listen


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1788, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for listen

Verb and Noun

Middle English listnen, from Old English hlysnan; akin to Sanskrit śroṣati he hears, Old English hlūd loud

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Time Traveler for listen

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The first known use of listen was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Listen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for listen


lis·​ten | \ ˈli-sᵊn How to pronounce listen (audio) \
listened; listening

Kids Definition of listen

1 : to pay attention in order to hear Are you listening to me?
2 : to hear and consider seriously He listened to his father's advice.

Other Words from listen

listener \ ˈlis-​nər , ˈli-​sᵊn-​ər \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on listen

Nglish: Translation of listen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of listen for Arabic Speakers


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