Main definitions of ear in US English:

: ear1ear2

ear1

noun

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

    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). The ears of other vertebrates are broadly similar

    • ‘The balancing mechanism in the ear can be tested in various ways using vestibulometric tests.’
    • ‘Within a few days, he completely lost hearing in his left ear.’
    • ‘Whales and pigeons can hear frequencies of sound far below the capacity of the human ear.’
    • ‘I was so embarrassed that I could feel my ears burn red!’
    • ‘Middle ear infections and fluid in the ear are the most common causes of temporary hearing loss in children.’
    • ‘One night, a moth flew into my mom's ear while she was washing dishes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Surgeons are sometimes able to preserve some hearing in the ear being operated on, but this is rare.’
    • ‘"Mom," he said, plugging one ear with his index finger to hear her better.’
    • ‘He unconsciously leaned his ear towards the sound reverberating through the guitar and nodded as he tuned.’
    • ‘I woke with my alarm sounding in my ear like every morning.’
    • ‘Eighteen months on, Oliver, now three, has no hearing in his left ear and limited hearing in his right ear.’
    • ‘Why scratch your left ear with your right hand?’
    • ‘I'm 31, and got my left ear pierced a couple of years ago.’
    • ‘I noticed that the girl's ears had reddened with embarrassment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So, she settled for plugging one ear with her finger and the other by squishing it against her shoulder.’
    • ‘Faith held the phone to her ear, listened to it ring, and waited for someone to pick up.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘"I don't like this…" he muttered as he placed his sensitive ear against the door.’
    organ of hearing
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An organ sensitive to sound in other animals.
      • ‘The voice is familiar to her and her cat ears perk up at the sound.’
      • ‘At that point the sensitive hound ears picked up another presence and he bounded over to greet me.’
      • ‘Suddenly he tensed, his sharp wolf ears picking out movement in the sand.’
      • ‘They have a tragus, which can be folded back to seal the opening of the ear when the animal digs.’
      • ‘In many ways, the cetacean ear is radically different from the ear of terrestrial mammals.’
      • ‘The very sad-looking pooch with one blue eye and one floppy ear on the story lead page is our beloved Luna.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then she would have leaned over and stroked the mare's neck whispering sweet nothings in her ear as the animal pranced.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2in singular An ability to recognize, appreciate, and reproduce sounds, especially music or language.
      ‘an ear for melody’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When describing settings, Petry has an eye for details, and when creating characters, an ear for dialogue.’
      • ‘Hamilton delighted in Emma's ear for languages and music, and her theatrical flair, and in 1791 he contentedly married her.’
      • ‘‘You know me, Michael, I have an ear for the truth as good as you do,’ Gilbert said.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My mom, being the rich socialite that she was, had an ear for gossip.’
      • ‘The duo play multiple instruments and both have an ear for finding rhythm tracks by recording clocks ticking, bells ringing and lawnmowers mowing.’
      • ‘He loves the English language and has a keen ear for its music.’
      • ‘Mom has a very finely tuned ear for music and languages.’
      • ‘Over the years, these keen listeners have developed an ear for every political innuendo and insinuation.’
      • ‘But with near sensory overload of sound, music and colour, not having an ear for the Danish language didn't matter.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A good sound technician and composer with an instinctive ear for music is vital.’
      • ‘A sensitive ear for voicing is needed to project the songful melodies effectively wherever they turn up in the texture.’
      • ‘I had not a good voice nor, I confess it, a very good ear.’
      • ‘He also has an ear for sampling, using horns and steel drums as needed.’
      • ‘He's also got a pretty good ear for what makes an ear-pleasing folk song.’
      appreciation, discrimination, perception, musical taste
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Used to refer to a person's willingness to listen and pay attention to something.
      ‘she offers a sympathetic ear to worried pet owners’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Trey listened with a patient ear, only making distance with the receiver when she whined or couldn't make out her blubbering.’
      • ‘What the bride needs more than anything else during this time is someone who will offer a sympathetic ear and practical advice.’
      • ‘No matter what you're talking about, the spinning red VRML cube has the patience to sit by and listen with an open ear.’
      • ‘Teenagers caught up in the turmoil of their parents' messy divorce are being offered a sympathetic ear by a new service in Winchester.’
      • ‘As for you, the membership, many of you have offered an ear to listen, time to reflect, and many hours of friendship and support.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The third did offer a sympathetic ear but no practical solutions, other than to suggest to the claimant that he should prioritise his work.’
      • ‘Vaughn listened with a patient ear, leaning back in his seat, asking a question or two when it was necessary.’
      • ‘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 has been attending the Doctors and Dentists Group for many years, finding it a vital help, offering practical guidance and a sympathetic ear.’
      • ‘Sometimes you needed a friendly ear to listen to your troubles and worries and tell you that everything was going to be alright.’
      • ‘"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.’
      • ‘They are offering a sympathetic ear to farmers suffering in the present weather crisis.’
      • ‘He's gone all soppy, crying because he misses Saskia and being a kind ear to listen to all Craig's miserable longings.’
      • ‘She offers a sympathetic ear and reassuring guidance.’
      • ‘She listened with an eager ear, thirsty for knowledge of a life better than her own.’
      • ‘In this instance all I can offer is company, a sympathetic ear and warm hugs - even if only from a distance at the moment.’
    4. 1.4 An ear-shaped thing, especially the handle of a jug.

Phrases

  • be all ears

    • informal Be listening eagerly and attentively.

      • ‘We were all ears after he had announced himself and flashed his warrant card.’
      • ‘The audience were all ears when the teams crooned ditties from the golden 80s.’
      • ‘If positive news on cord stem cells continues, doctors, patients, and investors will be all ears.’
      • ‘Kassi tells Liam of how she and Isabelle became friends and Liam is all ears.’
      • ‘This Wednesday night, in the packed meeting room of the West Richmond Community Centre, the crowd is all ears.’
      • ‘As an epileptic, I was all ears and I listened to her telling me her symptoms.’
      • ‘If Bose's idea has merit, auto manufacturers will be 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.’
      • ‘When Disney approached Stravinsky with the idea of using Le Sacre as part of Fantasia, the composer was 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.

      • ‘His name escapes me now, but I hope his ears are burning, wherever he is.’
  • grin (or smile) from ear to ear

    • Smile broadly.

      • ‘Despite many scrapes and cuts, he was smiling from ear to ear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But before he could answer, Chloe appeared at their table, smiling from ear to ear, with Jason at her side.’
      • ‘‘It's so exciting to get to meet him,’ she said, smiling from ear to ear as she gripped his hand.’
      • ‘I was smiling from ear to ear as I looked around her room. ‘Sarah?’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘I was smiling from ear to ear; I hadn't been that happy in - I hadn't been that happy for years.’
      • ‘‘It's all sorted’ Sky replies, smiling from ear to ear.’
  • have something coming out of one's ears

    • informal Have a substantial or excessive amount of something.

      ‘that man's got money coming out of his ears’
      • ‘Each is reportedly a multi-millionaire; both have endorsements coming out of their ears.’
      • ‘I think most people here will have plans coming out of their ears and most will say this is just another one.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What with his vast organic outfit at Highgrove, he must have organic vegetables coming out of his ears.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's the season of mangoes and you probably have them coming out of your ears.’
      • ‘Ever since coming to New Zealand in June 2000 I've had holidays coming out of my ears.’
      • ‘But they do have strikers coming out of their ears and he is probably sixth in the pecking order.’
      • ‘‘I have qualifications coming out of my ears,’ Mr Corbyn said.’
  • have someone's ear

    • Have access to and influence with someone.

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

    • Be well informed about events and trends.

      • ‘Anyone who truly has their ear to the ground has heard about this band as legend.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They kept an ear to the ground and followed up any and every rumour of a new find.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So what if Sven has been keeping an ear to the ground about what might be next for him?’
      • ‘Ultimately, the facility executive should keep an ear to the ground for factors that drive decisions in an organization.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 disregarded or quickly forgotten.

      ‘whatever he tells me seems to go 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?’
      • ‘All the pontificating that will go on between acts and between songs will go 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘For most people this kind of stuff goes in one ear and out the other,’ said the activist in Columbus.’
      • ‘At the moment this, if heard, would go in one ear and out the other.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Just telling kids that these services are available 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.’
  • listen with half an ear

    • Not give one's full attention.

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

    • informal Be dismissed or ejected ignominiously.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At the rate he is going, it looks like his strategy could backfire and he could soon be out on his ear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Why bother putting myself into this incredibly precarious occupation where I could be out on my ear within a year or two?’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
  • up to one's ears in

    • informal Very busy with or deeply involved in.

      ‘I'm up to my ears in work here’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Other times, it can land you both up to your ears in big trouble.’
      • ‘We are up to our ears in taxes, but don't seem to be getting any benefits.’
      • ‘According to a debt management firm ‘one in three adults are up to their ears in debt.’’
      • ‘The staff in our accounts department is getting so many orders that they're up to their ears in work.’
      • ‘Those of us in business are up to our ears in dealing with new types of Internet-based customer interactions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I came down with a horrible case of the flu and I've been in up to my ears in homework.’
      • ‘John is up to his ears in preparing for the march on Saturday - will be a long day.’

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

/ir//ɪr/

Main definitions of ear in US English:

: ear1ear2

ear2

noun

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

    • ‘Plants were allowed to open-pollinate and all measurements were taken on plants with a fertilized ear.’
    • ‘The data from these five populations, each planted from an individual ear, are presented in Table 8.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘The A158 ear always has paired spikelets, one sessile and one pedicellate.’
    • ‘The new growth - the young ear and stem segments of SS-FP was significantly slowed by the canopy cover.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In half of the plants, sink size was reduced by retaining only the five central spikelets of an ear.’
    • ‘There was no significant difference in grain number per ear observed in unstressed plants of mutants.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is most noticeable as grayish black galls on the ear of the plant.’
    1. 1.1North American A head of corn.
      • ‘In the piles were 10 red ears of corn and whoever found a red ear of corn got to kiss whoever they wanted to.’
      • ‘When an ear of corn is broken in half, the tip half shows the smooth endosperm.’
      • ‘Last year I had corn earworm damage in just about every ear.’
      • ‘Place the ear of corn into a saucepan and cover with water.’
      • ‘Place two potatoes, one lobster, a half pound clams and one ear corn on each piece.’
      • ‘And oh yeah, save her an ear of roasted corn and a cold frosty one for me, would ya?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Virgo has been depicted as a winged maiden holding a palm branch in her left hand and an ear of corn in her right.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘An average ear of corn weighs from 10 to 14 ounces and yields about 1 cup of kernels.’
      • ‘With a sharp knife, slide the blade down the ear of corn removing kernels.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hold the husked ear of corn upright in a deep, wide bowl.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

ear

/ir//ɪr/