Main definitions of ear in English

: ear1ear2

ear1

noun

  • 1The organ of hearing and balance in humans and other vertebrates, especially the external part of this.

    • ‘So, she settled for plugging one ear with her finger and the other by squishing it against her shoulder.’
    • ‘I was so embarrassed that I could feel my ears burn red!’
    • ‘Eighteen months on, Oliver, now three, has no hearing in his left ear and limited hearing in his right ear.’
    • ‘Within a few days, he completely lost hearing in his left ear.’
    • ‘Tyler stood out even from this group with five earrings on each ear, two eyebrow rings on each eyebrow, four lip rings, and two tongue pierces.’
    • ‘"Mom," he said, plugging one ear with his index finger to hear her better.’
    • ‘If the growth is large, then it may have caused more damage and this sometimes leads to some loss of hearing in the affected ear.’
    • ‘He unconsciously leaned his ear towards the sound reverberating through the guitar and nodded as he tuned.’
    • ‘I noticed that the girl's ears had reddened with embarrassment.’
    • ‘Faith held the phone to her ear, listened to it ring, and waited for someone to pick up.’
    • ‘I'm 31, and got my left ear pierced a couple of years ago.’
    • ‘Whales and pigeons can hear frequencies of sound far below the capacity of the human ear.’
    • ‘Whispering softly into the patient's ear or holding a softly ticking wristwatch close to the ear can be helpful in making a gross evaluation of hearing.’
    • ‘"I don't like this…" he muttered as he placed his sensitive ear against the door.’
    • ‘The balancing mechanism in the ear can be tested in various ways using vestibulometric tests.’
    • ‘One night, a moth flew into my mom's ear while she was washing dishes.’
    • ‘I woke with my alarm sounding in my ear like every morning.’
    • ‘Middle ear infections and fluid in the ear are the most common causes of temporary hearing loss in children.’
    • ‘Surgeons are sometimes able to preserve some hearing in the ear being operated on, but this is rare.’
    • ‘Why scratch your left ear with your right hand?’
    organ of hearing
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An organ sensitive to sound in other animals.
      • ‘At that point the sensitive hound ears picked up another presence and he bounded over to greet me.’
      • ‘The very sad-looking pooch with one blue eye and one floppy ear on the story lead page is our beloved Luna.’
      • ‘The UK tag will show the flock number followed by the individual animal number and it is recommended that the tag is placed in the left ear of the animal.’
      • ‘There was a wolf sitting on the gleaming linoleum outside the office, head cocked, ears pricked.’
      • ‘Then she would have leaned over and stroked the mare's neck whispering sweet nothings in her ear as the animal pranced.’
      • ‘Suddenly he tensed, his sharp wolf ears picking out movement in the sand.’
      • ‘The voice is familiar to her and her cat ears perk up at the sound.’
      • ‘In many ways, the cetacean ear is radically different from the ear of terrestrial mammals.’
      • ‘They have a tragus, which can be folded back to seal the opening of the ear when the animal digs.’
      • ‘They then tattoo the inside of the ear of animals that they spay and neuter so that they do not try to operate more than once on the same stray animal.’
    2. 1.2in singular An ability to recognize, appreciate, and reproduce sounds, especially music or language.
      ‘an ear for rhythm and melody’
      • ‘He's also got a pretty good ear for what makes an ear-pleasing folk song.’
      • ‘Mom has a very finely tuned ear for music and languages.’
      • ‘Brennan has a keen ear for dialogue, and the exchanges between Virginia and her family demonstrate this extremely well.’
      • ‘He was also a magnificent writer with an ear for language and a wonderful imagination, and a fine poet to boot.’
      • ‘The truth is he had no ear at all, and could not even carry a tune.’
      • ‘‘You know me, Michael, I have an ear for the truth as good as you do,’ Gilbert said.’
      • ‘Hamilton delighted in Emma's ear for languages and music, and her theatrical flair, and in 1791 he contentedly married her.’
      • ‘When describing settings, Petry has an eye for details, and when creating characters, an ear for dialogue.’
      • ‘The film was written by Laurence Coriat, who has an ear for the sort of unadorned, matter-of-fact dialogue that says a lot by what it leaves out.’
      • ‘In fact, it sounded so good that it seemed as though someone with an ear for classical music was at the helm of this company and so we decided to investigate.’
      • ‘The duo play multiple instruments and both have an ear for finding rhythm tracks by recording clocks ticking, bells ringing and lawnmowers mowing.’
      • ‘He also has an ear for sampling, using horns and steel drums as needed.’
      • ‘But with near sensory overload of sound, music and colour, not having an ear for the Danish language didn't matter.’
      • ‘It's a major work, an announcement from someone with an eye for beauty amidst squalor and an ear for the very real cadences of very specific slang and dialect.’
      • ‘A sensitive ear for voicing is needed to project the songful melodies effectively wherever they turn up in the texture.’
      • ‘Over the years, these keen listeners have developed an ear for every political innuendo and insinuation.’
      • ‘He loves the English language and has a keen ear for its music.’
      • ‘My mom, being the rich socialite that she was, had an ear for gossip.’
      • ‘A good sound technician and composer with an instinctive ear for music is vital.’
      • ‘I had not a good voice nor, I confess it, a very good ear.’
      appreciation, discrimination, perception, musical taste
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Used to refer to a person's willingness to listen to others.
      ‘she offers a sympathetic ear to worried pet owners’
      • ‘"I'm there as a chaplain to listen with a sympathetic ear to any concerns they may have, " Yee said.’
      • ‘The girl he talked to was a listening ear, someone willing to share in his anxiety about an undeniably unsettling situation.’
      • ‘If I didn't have a shoulder to lean on or a compassionate ear willing to listen to me rant, I might've been tempted to quit.’
      • ‘Sometimes you needed a friendly ear to listen to your troubles and worries and tell you that everything was going to be alright.’
      • ‘In this instance all I can offer is company, a sympathetic ear and warm hugs - even if only from a distance at the moment.’
      • ‘He's gone all soppy, crying because he misses Saskia and being a kind ear to listen to all Craig's miserable longings.’
      • ‘They are offering a sympathetic ear to farmers suffering in the present weather crisis.’
      • ‘Vaughn listened with a patient ear, leaning back in his seat, asking a question or two when it was necessary.’
      • ‘She offers a sympathetic ear and reassuring guidance.’
      • ‘She listened with an eager ear, thirsty for knowledge of a life better than her own.’
      • ‘He has been attending the Doctors and Dentists Group for many years, finding it a vital help, offering practical guidance and a sympathetic ear.’
      • ‘Trey listened with a patient ear, only making distance with the receiver when she whined or couldn't make out her blubbering.’
      • ‘Just a couple of carefully worded questions, delivered in his soft Welsh voice, and patients would pour out their symptoms to his sympathetic ear.’
      • ‘He had spent more time around her, doing nice things for her and just offering her a lending ear to listen to her and a shoulder to cry on when she needed it.’
      • ‘It offered not only a sympathetic ear but also structured advice on what to do next, and helped us through the maze of local authority and social services applications.’
      • ‘What the bride needs more than anything else during this time is someone who will offer a sympathetic ear and practical advice.’
      • ‘Teenagers caught up in the turmoil of their parents' messy divorce are being offered a sympathetic ear by a new service in Winchester.’
      • ‘The third did offer a sympathetic ear but no practical solutions, other than to suggest to the claimant that he should prioritise his work.’
      • ‘No matter what you're talking about, the spinning red VRML cube has the patience to sit by and listen with an open ear.’
      • ‘As for you, the membership, many of you have offered an ear to listen, time to reflect, and many hours of friendship and support.’

The ear of a mammal is composed of three parts. The outer or external ear consists of a fleshy external flap and a tube leading to the eardrum or tympanum. The middle ear is an air-filled cavity connected to the throat, containing three small linked bones that transmit vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. The inner ear is a complex fluid-filled labyrinth including the spiral cochlea (where vibrations are converted to nerve impulses) and the three semicircular canals (forming the organ of balance)

Phrases

  • be all ears

    • informal Be listening eagerly.

      ‘I'm all ears, tell me about it’
      • ‘This Wednesday night, in the packed meeting room of the West Richmond Community Centre, the crowd is all ears.’
      • ‘If Bose's idea has merit, auto manufacturers will be all ears.’
      • ‘As an epileptic, I was all ears and I listened to her telling me her symptoms.’
      • ‘We were all ears after he had announced himself and flashed his warrant card.’
      • ‘When Disney approached Stravinsky with the idea of using Le Sacre as part of Fantasia, the composer was all ears.’
      • ‘He has been telling versions of his for years, and the media have been all ears.’
      • ‘Our reporter was all ears, but heard only silence - as the figure was written down and discreetly handed to the magistrates.’
      • ‘The audience were all ears when the teams crooned ditties from the golden 80s.’
      • ‘Kassi tells Liam of how she and Isabelle became friends and Liam is all ears.’
      • ‘If positive news on cord stem cells continues, doctors, patients, and investors will be all ears.’
      alert, vigilant, wide awake, aware, watchful, attentive, observant, circumspect, wary, chary, heedful, canny
      View synonyms
  • bring something (down) about one's ears

    • Bring misfortune on oneself.

      ‘she brought her world crashing about her ears’
  • one's ears are burning

    • One is subconsciously aware of being talked about or criticized.

      ‘certain officials in the police department will find their ears are burning before long’
      • ‘His name escapes me now, but I hope his ears are burning, wherever he is.’
  • grin (or smile) from ear to ear

    • Smile broadly.

      ‘you'll come out of the show grinning from ear to ear’
      • ‘I was smiling from ear to ear; I hadn't been that happy in - I hadn't been that happy for years.’
      • ‘‘It's so exciting to get to meet him,’ she said, smiling from ear to ear as she gripped his hand.’
      • ‘‘When we saw her in the pet store, we just knew she was the dog for you,’ my mom continued, smiling from ear to ear.’
      • ‘‘It's all sorted’ Sky replies, smiling from ear to ear.’
      • ‘Despite many scrapes and cuts, he was smiling from ear to ear.’
      • ‘I know Eddie was watching from above that night and I guarantee he was smiling from ear to ear at the respect that was shown to him both from the wrestlers as well as the fans.’
      • ‘Shivering later from the cold, but smiling from ear to ear, he said he felt ‘excellent, very happy’ about the engagement.’
      • ‘At the end of the evening, Dick was smiling from ear to ear to see just hooks on the walls where his artworks used to hang because that means they have been sold.’
      • ‘I was smiling from ear to ear as I looked around her room. ‘Sarah?’’
      • ‘But before he could answer, Chloe appeared at their table, smiling from ear to ear, with Jason at her side.’
  • have something coming out of one's ears

    • informal Have a substantial amount of something.

      ‘that man's got money coming out of his ears’
      • ‘But they do have strikers coming out of their ears and he is probably sixth in the pecking order.’
      • ‘The lads have put everything they have into it and the manager should have accolades coming out of his ears because he has really got the best out of all the players in the squad.’
      • ‘‘I have qualifications coming out of my ears,’ Mr Corbyn said.’
      • ‘Ever since coming to New Zealand in June 2000 I've had holidays coming out of my ears.’
      • ‘Each is reportedly a multi-millionaire; both have endorsements coming out of their ears.’
      • ‘We used to produce so many muck spreaders we had them coming out of our ears, but now we are down to 15 staff and it will be hard to produce one of these machines a week.’
      • ‘What with his vast organic outfit at Highgrove, he must have organic vegetables coming out of his ears.’
      • ‘It's the season of mangoes and you probably have them coming out of your ears.’
      • ‘I think most people here will have plans coming out of their ears and most will say this is just another one.’
      • ‘I figured that despite having kids coming out of my ears, very little spare cash and a stressful job, on one night a week my guitar and I would work together again.’
  • have someone's ear

    • Have access to and influence with someone.

      ‘he claimed to have the prime minister's ear’
      • ‘And while Souter is very much his own man, Irvine has his ear.’
      • ‘Bisbee was Cooke's aide-de-camp in Omaha, and he had General Cooke's ear and complete access to and responsibility for his correspondence and reports.’
      • ‘‘When you hold a fundraiser, there are certain people who are going to come that want to have your ear,’ says Chan.’
      • ‘Your relationship can raise communication barriers with colleagues, if they fear that you are the only one to have the boss's ear.’
      • ‘The hawks in Washington have the President 's ear - in Europe, calmer voices are speaking out.’
      • ‘But who exactly has the president 's ear on China policy?’
      • ‘But always, before he acts, he listens to a select few who have his ear.’
      • ‘While we have the president's ear there is another urgent matter which requires sensible discussion and not knee-jerk reactions.’
      • ‘I doubt I will trust you, but you have my ear for now.’
      • ‘And if there were no or minimal repercussions for switching to private accounts, you would definitely have my ear.’
      attention, attentiveness, notice, heed, regard, consideration
      View synonyms
  • have (or keep) an ear to the ground

    • Be well informed about events and trends.

      ‘the good leader has his ear to the ground and will know when real doubts are growing’
      • ‘I understand that righteous anger fuels the funny, and that you have to work at keeping an ear to the ground and respond to what the audience wants to hear.’
      • ‘They kept an ear to the ground and followed up any and every rumour of a new find.’
      • ‘So what if Sven has been keeping an ear to the ground about what might be next for him?’
      • ‘He's got to be involved, he's got to have his ear to the ground, and he's got to live up to a lot.’
      • ‘If you are going to insist on this course of action, then I suggest you keep an ear to the ground and the news; and take this.’
      • ‘The CEO will expect his chief security officer to have his ear to the ground, to know what's going on at all times and to think ahead.’
      • ‘Ultimately, the facility executive should keep an ear to the ground for factors that drive decisions in an organization.’
      • ‘The experts in transport, who have an ear to the ground, concur that many countries that held on to the railway system have been wiser than the ones that closed them to save money.’
      • ‘Anyone who truly has their ear to the ground has heard about this band as legend.’
      • ‘It's there and you can find out if you have your ear to the ground.’
  • in one ear and out the other

    • Heard but quickly forgotten.

      ‘whatever he tells me seems to go in one ear and out the other’
      • ‘All the pontificating that will go on between acts and between songs will go in one ear and out the other.’
      • ‘I'd been hearing for weeks how dangerous the tribal areas are, getting so many warnings that they've been going in one ear and out the other.’
      • ‘I didn't even hear her anymore; it was just in one ear and out the other, the same old story that I'm so, so sick of.’
      • ‘Just telling kids that these services are available will go in one ear and out the other.’
      • ‘At the moment this, if heard, would go in one ear and out the other.’
      • ‘‘For most people this kind of stuff goes in one ear and out the other,’ said the activist in Columbus.’
      • ‘Those addresses appear to have gone in one ear and out the other of our bishops.’
      • ‘Sometimes people hear things and it ‘goes in one ear and out the other.’’
      • ‘Gladwell contends all social epidemics need ‘stickiness’, the quality which stops an idea going in one ear and out the other.’
      • ‘Is all of this stuff I've been telling y'all over the years simply going in one ear and out the other?’
  • listen with half an ear

    • Not give one's full attention.

      ‘throughout the meeting Bobby only had listened with half an ear’
      • ‘He listened with half an ear as everyone was talking about their professions.’
      • ‘I watch Claire relate everything to boats and watch you all listen with half an ear.’
      • ‘‘Oh, my, this is interesting,’ said Maria, who had been listening with half an ear until now.’
      • ‘Patrick listened and laughed in the appropriate places, but he only listened with half an ear.’
      • ‘As they walked off to start their shift, Janey was listening with half an ear to Debi's chatter.’
      • ‘Michaela only listened with half an ear until she heard Aiden ask her, ‘Michaela, what do you usually do on your birthday?’’
      • ‘She listened with half an ear while she surveyed her surroundings with boredom.’
      • ‘Tand yawned, as he listened with half an ear to the goings on.’
      • ‘Midori watched the room warily, only listening with half an ear as she scanned the crowd.’
      • ‘‘I don't know why you do this to yourself every year,’ Claire was saying as I listened with half an ear.’
  • be out on one's ear

    • informal Be dismissed ignominiously.

      ‘if this cheque bounces, you're out on your ear’
      • ‘I think in both those cases he might well be out on his ear.’
      • ‘In due time the supporters, media, and players, it seems, turned against him, and he was out on his ear as the team headed for a summer tour in the US.’
      • ‘In Ireland, meanwhile, you can be out on your ear within 28 days and your rent can rise by as much as your landlord likes.’
      • ‘I've been having a bit of a laugh with a few of the regulars at the pub about who I'm going to let in if there's a disaster and who is out on their ear.’
      • ‘Anyone who creates any problems is out on his ear.’
      • ‘We've lived together for the past two years and certainly if I don't ask her within the next couple of years I'll be out on my ear.’
      • ‘She was out on her ear because she misled the public.’
      • ‘And then at the end of the season, his contract expires and if he has not done enough to convince the coaches that he can operate at this level, he could be out on his ear.’
      • ‘At the rate he is going, it looks like his strategy could backfire and he could soon be out on his ear.’
      • ‘Why bother putting myself into this incredibly precarious occupation where I could be out on my ear within a year or two?’
  • reach someone's ears

    • Be heard or heard about by someone.

      ‘the sound of running feet reached my ears’
      ‘one of those stories reached our ears’
      • ‘They fell out on Vietnam, and Johnson retailed nasty gibes that he knew would reach Lippmann's ears.’
      • ‘This cheery news reached my ears via the steam-driven radio the other night.’
      • ‘The next sound that reached his ears shocked him even more.’
      • ‘Individually we can take steps to generally control what sounds reach our ears in the privacy of our home.’
      • ‘Exhausted out of reason and numb with pain, Rose pushed and the most beautiful sound in the world reached her ears.’
      • ‘Inside, the sound of a symphony warming up reached her ears.’
      • ‘The latest rumour to reach Mr Kyaw's ears, however, was an encouraging one.’
      • ‘Some of the rumors would reach my children's ears and upset them.’
      • ‘A voice from the shadows of the room reached my ears.’
      • ‘Spektor does, however, constantly employ a trick I consider dirty: She reaches her audience's ears and heartstrings through feigned naivete.’
  • up to one's ears in

    • informal Very busy with.

      ‘I'm up to my ears in work here’
      • ‘According to a debt management firm ‘one in three adults are up to their ears in debt.’’
      • ‘We are up to our ears in taxes, but don't seem to be getting any benefits.’
      • ‘Jonah knows very well what a real story is because he was up to his ears in one of the biggest political scandals in history.’
      • ‘Those of us in business are up to our ears in dealing with new types of Internet-based customer interactions.’
      • ‘Other times, it can land you both up to your ears in big trouble.’
      • ‘I came down with a horrible case of the flu and I've been in up to my ears in homework.’
      • ‘The staff in our accounts department is getting so many orders that they're up to their ears in work.’
      • ‘John is up to his ears in preparing for the march on Saturday - will be a long day.’
      • ‘I was up to my ears in work, and literally talking on two phones at once like a tycoon in an old movie.’
      • ‘I know you are all busy with your families, up to your ears in daily problem solving, and that the last thing you need is bad news.’

Origin

Old English ēare, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch oor and German Ohr, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin auris and Greek ous.

Pronunciation

ear

/ɪə/

Main definitions of ear in English

: ear1ear2

ear2

noun

  • 1The seed-bearing head or spike of a cereal plant.

    • ‘It is most noticeable as grayish black galls on the ear of the plant.’
    • ‘The number of nodes on the most apical branch, which is an ear in normal plants, was counted.’
    • ‘Multiple endosperms from a single ear were combined for analysis.’
    • ‘In this case, the phenotypic description included the measurements of the length of the awn considering those of the more distal spikelets of the ear.’
    • ‘In half of the plants, sink size was reduced by retaining only the five central spikelets of an ear.’
    • ‘Measurements were conducted at 20°C at the second leaf of seedlings and at 25°C at the second leaf above the ear during flowering.’
    • ‘The new growth - the young ear and stem segments of SS-FP was significantly slowed by the canopy cover.’
    • ‘Plants were allowed to open-pollinate and all measurements were taken on plants with a fertilized ear.’
    • ‘The A158 ear always has paired spikelets, one sessile and one pedicellate.’
    • ‘This ear to ear variation was probably due largely to sporadic male sterility which resulted in a small but apparently significant reduction in the number of grains per ear in some plants.’
    • ‘The data from these five populations, each planted from an individual ear, are presented in Table 8.’
    • ‘In the case of cereals, grain is the primary yield and total production depends on the number of plants per area, tillers per plant, number of ears per tiller, grains per ear and mass per grain.’
    • ‘There was no significant difference in grain number per ear observed in unstressed plants of mutants.’
    1. 1.1North American A head of maize.
      • ‘Last year I had corn earworm damage in just about every ear.’
      • ‘Hold the husked ear of corn upright in a deep, wide bowl.’
      • ‘Raccoons' habit of moving on to the next ear of corn before finishing the first makes them especially damaging to fields of both sweet corn and field corn.’
      • ‘With a sharp knife, slide the blade down the ear of corn removing kernels.’
      • ‘Virgo has been depicted as a winged maiden holding a palm branch in her left hand and an ear of corn in her right.’
      • ‘And oh yeah, save her an ear of roasted corn and a cold frosty one for me, would ya?’
      • ‘Place the ear of corn into a saucepan and cover with water.’
      • ‘The dignity inherent in the farmer's labour is enhanced rather than diminished as he turns every tenth ear of corn over to support those who labour in a different field.’
      • ‘In the piles were 10 red ears of corn and whoever found a red ear of corn got to kiss whoever they wanted to.’
      • ‘Place two potatoes, one lobster, a half pound clams and one ear corn on each piece.’
      • ‘By sticking an ear of dried corn on top, he lured squirrels to charge up the board and then spin around for a dizzying ride.’
      • ‘An average ear of corn weighs from 10 to 14 ounces and yields about 1 cup of kernels.’
      • ‘When an ear of corn is broken in half, the tip half shows the smooth endosperm.’
      • ‘Until I do, keep an eye out for me at the movies, in the record shops, or simply in the supermarket shopping for a good ear of sweet corn.’

Origin

Old English ēar, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aar and German Ähre.

Pronunciation

ear

/ɪə/