from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Anatomy The vertebrate organ of hearing, responsible for maintaining equilibrium as well as sensing sound and divided in mammals into the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.
  • n. Anatomy The part of this organ that is externally visible.
  • n. An invertebrate organ analogous to the mammalian ear.
  • n. The sense of hearing: a sound that grates on the ear.
  • n. Sensitivity or receptiveness to sound, especially:
  • n. Sharpness or refinement of hearing: a singer with a good ear for harmony.
  • n. The ability to play a passage of music solely from hearing it: plays the piano by ear.
  • n. Responsiveness to the sounds or forms of spoken language: a writer with a good ear for dialogue; has an ear for foreign languages.
  • n. Sympathetic or favorable attention: "[The President] wavers between the two positions, depending on who last had his ear” ( Joseph C. Harsch).
  • n. Something resembling the external ear in position or shape, especially:
  • n. A flexible tuft of feathers located above the eyes of certain birds, such as owls, that functions in visual communication but not in hearing. Also called ear tuft.
  • n. A projecting handle, as on a vase or pitcher.
  • n. A small box in the upper corner of the page in a newspaper or periodical that contains a printed notice, such as promotional material or weather information.
  • n. Informal Headphones.
  • idiom all ears Acutely attentive: Tell your story-we're all ears!
  • idiom coming out of (one's) ears In more than adequate amounts; overabundant.
  • idiom give To pay close attention; listen attentively.
  • idiom have To be on the watch for new trends or information.
  • idiom in one ear and out the other Without any influence or effect; unheeded: His mind was made up, so my arguments went in one ear and out the other.
  • idiom its In a state of amazement, excitement, or uproar: a controversial movie that set the film industry on its ear.
  • idiom play it by ear To act according to the circumstances; improvise: "He plays his negotiations by ear, going into them with no clear or fixed plan” ( George F. Kennan).
  • idiom up to (one's) ears Deeply involved or occupied fully: I'm up to my ears in work.
  • n. The seed-bearing spike of a cereal plant, such as corn.
  • intransitive v. To form or grow ears.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The organ of hearing, consisting of the pinna, auditory canal, eardrum, malleus, incus, stapes and cochlea.
  • n. The external part of the organ of hearing, the auricle.
  • n. A police informant.
  • n. The fruiting body of a grain plant.
  • v. To plough.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The organ of hearing; the external ear.
  • n. The sense of hearing; the perception of sounds; the power of discriminating between different tones; ; -- in the singular only.
  • n. That which resembles in shape or position the ear of an animal; any prominence or projection on an object, -- usually one for support or attachment; a lug; a handle. The ears of a boat are outside kneepieces near the bow. See Illust. of Bell.
  • n.
  • n. Same as Acroterium.
  • n. Same as Crossette.
  • n. Privilege of being kindly heard; favor; attention.
  • n. The spike or head of any cereal (as, wheat, rye, barley, Indian corn, etc.), containing the kernels.
  • intransitive v. To put forth ears in growing; to form ears, as grain.
  • transitive v. To take in with the ears; to hear.
  • transitive v. To plow or till; to cultivate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To listen to; hear with attention.
  • To shoot, as an ear; form ears, as corn.
  • To cultivate with a plow; plow; till.
  • Early.
  • n. The organ of hearing; the apparatus of audition; the acoustic sense-organ; any mechanism by which an animal receives the impact of sound-waves and perceives them as sound.
  • n. The external ear alone, known as the pinna, auricle, or concha: as, the horse laid his ears back.
  • n. In ornithology: The auriculars or packet of auricular feathers which cover the external ear-passage of a bird.
  • n. A plumicorn or corniplume; one of the “horns” of an owl.
  • n. The sense of hearing; the power of distinguishing sounds; the power of nice perception of the differences of sound.
  • n. Specifically, in music, the capacity to appreciate, analyze, and reproduce musical compositions by hearing them; sensitiveness to musical intonation and to differences of pitch and quality in musical sounds: as, a correct ear. Sometimes called a musical ear.
  • n. A careful or favorable hearing; attention; heed.
  • n. Disposition to listen; judgment; taste.
  • n. A part of any inanimate object having some likeness to the external ear.
  • n. In architecture, same as crosset, 1 .
  • n. An aural instrument for the use of very deaf persons. It has a large pavilion secured by a swivel to a stand upon the floor, and an elastic tube with a nozle to be held to the ear.
  • n. A spike or head of corn or grain; that part of a cereal plant which contains the flowers and seed.
  • n. A kidney.
  • n.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. attention to what is said
  • n. the externally visible cartilaginous structure of the external ear
  • n. fruiting spike of a cereal plant especially corn
  • n. good hearing
  • n. the sense organ for hearing and equilibrium


Middle English ere, from Old English ēare; see ous- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English ere, from Old English ēar.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English ere, ȝhere, from Old English ēare ("ear"), from the voiced Verner alternant of Proto-Germanic *ausô (“ear”) (compare Scots ear, West Frisian ear, Dutch oor, German Ohr, Swedish öra, Danish øre), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ous- (compare Old Irish áu, Latin auris, Lithuanian ausìs, Russian ухо (úxo), Albanian vesh, Ancient Greek οὖς (oûs), Armenian ունկն (unkn), Persian گوش (guš) ). (Wiktionary)
Middle English er, from Old English ēar, from Proto-Germanic *ahaz (compare West Frisian ier, Dutch aar, German Ähre), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ék- 'sharp' (compare Latin acus 'needle; husk', Tocharian B āk 'ear, awn', Old Church Slavonic ostĭ 'wheat spike, sharp point'). More at edge. (Wiktionary)
Old English erian (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.