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

    • ‘Eighteen months on, Oliver, now three, has no hearing in his left ear and limited hearing in his right ear.’
    • ‘He unconsciously leaned his ear towards the sound reverberating through the guitar and nodded as he tuned.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The balancing mechanism in the ear can be tested in various ways using vestibulometric tests.’
    • ‘Faith held the phone to her ear, listened to it ring, and waited for someone to pick up.’
    • ‘I woke with my alarm sounding in my ear like every morning.’
    • ‘I'm 31, and got my left ear pierced a couple of years ago.’
    • ‘Surgeons are sometimes able to preserve some hearing in the ear being operated on, but this is rare.’
    • ‘One night, a moth flew into my mom's ear while she was washing dishes.’
    • ‘I noticed that the girl's ears had reddened with embarrassment.’
    • ‘"I don't like this…" he muttered as he placed his sensitive ear against the door.’
    • ‘Middle ear infections and fluid in the ear are the most common causes of temporary hearing loss in children.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whales and pigeons can hear frequencies of sound far below the capacity of the human ear.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Why scratch your left ear with your right hand?’
    • ‘I was so embarrassed that I could feel my ears burn red!’
    • ‘"Mom," he said, plugging one ear with his index finger to hear her better.’
    • ‘Within a few days, he completely lost hearing in his left ear.’
    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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They have a tragus, which can be folded back to seal the opening of the ear when the animal digs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In many ways, the cetacean ear is radically different from the ear of terrestrial mammals.’
      • ‘Then she would have leaned over and stroked the mare's neck whispering sweet nothings in her ear as the animal pranced.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There was a wolf sitting on the gleaming linoleum outside the office, head cocked, ears pricked.’
      • ‘Suddenly he tensed, his sharp wolf ears picking out movement in the sand.’
    2. 1.2in singular An ability to recognize, appreciate, and reproduce sounds, especially music or language.
      ‘an ear for melody’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A sensitive ear for voicing is needed to project the songful melodies effectively wherever they turn up in the texture.’
      • ‘Mom has a very finely tuned ear for music and languages.’
      • ‘When describing settings, Petry has an eye for details, and when creating characters, an ear for dialogue.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Brennan has a keen ear for dialogue, and the exchanges between Virginia and her family demonstrate this extremely well.’
      • ‘He's also got a pretty good ear for what makes an ear-pleasing folk song.’
      • ‘He also has an ear for sampling, using horns and steel drums as needed.’
      • ‘‘You know me, Michael, I have an ear for the truth as good as you do,’ Gilbert said.’
      • ‘Over the years, these keen listeners have developed an ear for every political innuendo and insinuation.’
      • ‘Hamilton delighted in Emma's ear for languages and music, and her theatrical flair, and in 1791 he contentedly married her.’
      • ‘I had not a good voice nor, I confess it, a very good ear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He loves the English language and has a keen ear for its music.’
      • ‘The duo play multiple instruments and both have an ear for finding rhythm tracks by recording clocks ticking, bells ringing and lawnmowers mowing.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘But with near sensory overload of sound, music and colour, not having an ear for the Danish language didn't matter.’
      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’
      • ‘In this instance all I can offer is company, a sympathetic ear and warm hugs - even if only from a distance at the moment.’
      • ‘She offers a sympathetic ear and reassuring guidance.’
      • ‘Sometimes you needed a friendly ear to listen to your troubles and worries and tell you that everything was going to be alright.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She listened with an eager ear, thirsty for knowledge of a life better than her own.’
      • ‘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 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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The third did offer a sympathetic ear but no practical solutions, other than to suggest to the claimant that he should prioritise his work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘"I'm there as a chaplain to listen with a sympathetic ear to any concerns they may have, " Yee said.’
      • ‘He's gone all soppy, crying because he misses Saskia and being a kind ear to listen to all Craig's miserable longings.’
      • ‘Teenagers caught up in the turmoil of their parents' messy divorce are being offered a sympathetic ear by a new service in Winchester.’
    4. 1.4 An ear-shaped thing, especially the handle of a jug.

Phrases

  • be all ears

    • informal Be listening eagerly and attentively.

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

      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘But before he could answer, Chloe appeared at their table, smiling from ear to ear, with Jason at her side.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was smiling from ear to ear; I hadn't been that happy in - I hadn't been that happy for years.’
      • ‘I was smiling from ear to ear as I looked around her room. ‘Sarah?’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘It's all sorted’ Sky replies, smiling from ear to ear.’
      • ‘Despite many scrapes and cuts, he was smiling from ear to ear.’
      • ‘Shivering later from the cold, but smiling from ear to ear, he said he felt ‘excellent, very happy’ about the engagement.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘It's the season of mangoes and you probably have them coming out of your 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.’
      • ‘‘I have qualifications coming out of my ears,’ Mr Corbyn said.’
      • ‘I think most people here will have plans coming out of their ears and most will say this is just another one.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But they do have strikers coming out of their ears and he is probably sixth in the pecking order.’
      • ‘Ever since coming to New Zealand in June 2000 I've had holidays coming out of my ears.’
      • ‘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.’
  • have someone's ear

    • Have access to and influence with someone.

      ‘he claimed to have the prime minister's ear’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘And while Souter is very much his own man, Irvine has his ear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And if there were no or minimal repercussions for switching to private accounts, you would definitely have my ear.’
      • ‘The hawks in Washington have the President 's ear - in Europe, calmer voices are speaking out.’
      • ‘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.’
      attention, attentiveness, notice, heed, regard, consideration
      View synonyms
  • have (or keep) an ear to the ground

    • Be well informed about events and trends.

      • ‘It's there and you can find out if you have your ear to the ground.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So what if Sven has been keeping an ear to the ground about what might be next for him?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ultimately, the facility executive should keep an ear to the ground for factors that drive decisions in an organization.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sometimes people hear things and it ‘goes in one ear and out the other.’’
      • ‘At the moment this, if heard, would go 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.’
      • ‘Just telling kids that these services are available 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.’
      • ‘All the pontificating that will go on between acts and between songs will go in one ear and out the other.’
      • ‘Those addresses appear to have gone in one ear and out the other of our bishops.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘Tand yawned, as he listened with half an ear to the goings on.’
      • ‘Michaela only listened with half an ear until she heard Aiden ask her, ‘Michaela, what do you usually do on your birthday?’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He listened with half an ear as everyone was talking about their professions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I watch Claire relate everything to boats and watch you all listen with half an ear.’
      • ‘She listened with half an ear while she surveyed her surroundings with boredom.’
      • ‘‘Oh, my, this is interesting,’ said Maria, who had been listening with half an ear until now.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘Why bother putting myself into this incredibly precarious occupation where I could be out on my ear within a year or two?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Anyone who creates any problems is 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She was out on her ear because she misled the public.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We are up to our ears in taxes, but don't seem to be getting any benefits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The staff in our accounts department is getting so many orders that they're up to their ears in work.’
      • ‘I came down with a horrible case of the flu and I've been in up to my ears in homework.’
      • ‘Other times, it can land you both up to your ears in big trouble.’
      • ‘According to a debt management firm ‘one in three adults are up to their ears in debt.’’

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

/ɪr//ir/

Main definitions of ear in US 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was no significant difference in grain number per ear observed in unstressed plants of mutants.’
    • ‘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 A158 ear always has paired spikelets, one sessile and one pedicellate.’
    • ‘In half of the plants, sink size was reduced by retaining only the five central spikelets of an ear.’
    • ‘The number of nodes on the most apical branch, which is an ear in normal plants, was counted.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Multiple endosperms from a single ear were combined for analysis.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The new growth - the young ear and stem segments of SS-FP was significantly slowed by the canopy cover.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1North American A head of corn.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the piles were 10 red ears of corn and whoever found a red ear of corn got to kiss whoever they wanted to.’
      • ‘Hold the husked ear of corn upright in a deep, wide bowl.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Place two potatoes, one lobster, a half pound clams and one ear corn on each piece.’
      • ‘An average ear of corn weighs from 10 to 14 ounces and yields about 1 cup of kernels.’
      • ‘And oh yeah, save her an ear of roasted corn and a cold frosty one for me, would ya?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Virgo has been depicted as a winged maiden holding a palm branch in her left hand and an ear of corn in her right.’
      • ‘When an ear of corn is broken in half, the tip half shows the smooth endosperm.’
      • ‘With a sharp knife, slide the blade down the ear of corn removing kernels.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Last year I had corn earworm damage in just about every ear.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

ear

/ɪr//ir/