intr.v. lis·tened, lis·ten·ing, lis·tens
1. To make an effort to hear something: listen to the radio; listen for the bell that ends class.
2. To pay attention; heed: “She encouraged me to listen carefully to what country people called mother wit” (Maya Angelou).
An act of listening: Would you like to give the CD a listen before buying it?
1. To listen to a conversation between others; eavesdrop.
2. To tune in and listen to a broadcast.
Used as command to get a group or individual to pay attention: Listen up, everyone—we have to evacuate!
[Middle English listenen, alteration (influenced by listen, to list, listen; see LIST4) of Old English hlysnan; see kleu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.