Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

hear - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     hear pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlehearing
past tenseheard
past participleheard
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] [never progressive] to realize that someone or something is making a sound

    He listened but heard nothing more.

    Mary heard the sound of voices.

    Shh – I can’t hear.

    hear what:

    No one could hear what she said.

    hear someone/something do something:

    He heard the door slam shut.

    hear someone/something doing something:

    She heard the dog barking outside.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] [not usually progressive] to receive information about something

    Have you heard? Lucy passed her exam.

    hear (that):

    I heard he’d got a new job.

    hear about:

    Did you hear about Jim’s party?

    hear of:

    We didn’t hear of his death until many years later.

    be pleased/sorry etc to hear:

    I’m delighted to hear that you’re coming.

    hear what/how etc:

    I came home as soon as I heard what happened.

    hear rumours/the news:

    We heard rumours that the school was going to close.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to listen to someone who is speaking about a particular thing

    We’ll meet again in two weeks, when I’ll hear your suggestions.

    hear what:

    We’re all eager to hear what he has to say.

    hear someone on something:

    All members are entitled to be heard on this matter.

    1. a.
      [transitive] [not usually progressive] to listen to something such as a speech, performance, or programme

      I want to hear the news on the radio before I go.

      Do you want to hear this story or not?

      hear someone do something:

      He’s got a great voice – you should hear him sing.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to notice that someone is affected by a particular feeling from the way that they are speaking

    He heard the bitterness in her voice.

    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] to understand what someone is saying to you

      Look, you’re just not hearing me, are you?

  5. 5
    [intransitive/transitive] used for talking about the things that people say

    I’m surprised to hear you say that.

    I haven’t heard him offering to help (=he has not offered).

    You won’t hear me complain (=I won’t complain).

    be heard to remark/comment/say etc:

    One visitor was heard to remark something about the entrance fee.

  6. 6
    [transitive] if a court case is heard, it is dealt with by a court or judge

    The appeal will be heard by a single judge.

    1. a.
      if a court hears something, that is what is said in court

      The court heard that he had been drinking.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play