Definition of hearken in US English:


(also harken)


[no object]archaic
  • Listen.

    ‘he refused to hearken to Thomas's words of wisdom’
    • ‘The voice is pedantic and apostrophic - O reader, hearken to my tale - and imbued with a faux-archaism that suggests the curlicued Georgian efforts of young Robin Hyde.’
    • ‘Does it need drastic action by the association of international air lines, in order for those responsible for our fuel management to hearken to the wake up call?’
    • ‘Basically, the manufacturers are accusing the Government of not hearkening to their submissions, which they say would have done a lot to reduce their production costs.’
    • ‘At last, the Hebrews have hearkened unto that voice in the wilderness, that great prophet who came down off the mountain.’
    • ‘The Torah tells us listen, hear, and hearken on whichever level you are able.’
    pay attention, pay heed, be attentive, listen, lend an ear
    View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • hearken back to

    • Evoke (an older style or genre)

      ‘a taste that harkens back to happier times’
      • ‘They explain the widening gulf between their commentary and reality by hearkening back to the 1993 budget.’
      • ‘They hearken back to the great Common Law judges of the past who with determination and assurance developed the Common Law from precedent to precedent.’
      • ‘Given the fact that most of this paraphernalia hearkens back to movies of yore, only a modern projection screen, like the ones in Vic's lecture theatres, seems out of place.’
      • ‘Wilson believes that this attitude hearkens back to the ‘old days’.’
      • ‘It's meant to hearken back to the seventies connotation: ‘cool’ or ‘phat’ to other generations.’
      • ‘It raises questions of a claim to European leadership, perhaps in co-operation with Russia, that hearkens back to some Prussian ideas of the 19th century.’
      • ‘It hearkens back to the days when it didn't seem to be such a waste of time to protest the general mess in which the world is mired.’
      • ‘But first, a new diversion, hearkening back to days gone by when life was easier and there was no such thing as project management…’
      • ‘Their concert hearkens back to a day when bands actually put on shows, not just stumbled on stage, picked up their instruments and left 45 minutes later.’
      • ‘The results are sculptural, hearkening back to the artist's beginnings in that three-dimensional medium.’
      • ‘That hearkens back to your early days, when you guys were cranking out music at a ridiculously prolific rate.’
      • ‘I found this number intriguing, my mind hearkening back to the events of 1968, a year filled with a lifetime's worth of personal transformations and a civilization's worth of crucibles.’
      • ‘But, that - I was not surprised at the initial Soviet response that is - sort of hearkens back to the Cold War days when they tried to deny at first that it happened and then try to cover it up.’
      • ‘Taylor's funk-influenced style hearkens back to the days when Motown was pounding out hit after soulful hit, without relying on sentimentalism or retro-chic.’
      • ‘I am currently creating a website for a congressman and I've found the graphic imagery of today's campaigns occurs within standards that hearken back to an ‘old time’ aesthetic.’
      • ‘It hearkens back to a time not so long ago when journalists and illustrators seemed to have a lot more space.’
      • ‘You know, I think some people can relate to being the last picked, and I think, as you hearken back to those days on the playground scene here, you almost can feel the pain when you're in your 40s.’
      • ‘These ecological anxieties hearken back through a tradition of tasty ‘people as food’ films to the wonderful Cold War anxiety films of the 1950s and '60s.’
      • ‘When he gets to closing arguments, he's going to want to hearken back to that because he doesn't this bug evidence, which comes at the very end, to cloud the picture.’
      • ‘Conquering the great monster with patience, courage, skill and intellect hearkens back to their ancient mythology, providing a link to the past and a way for the future.’


Old English heorcnian; probably related to hark. The spelling with ea (dating from the 16th century) is due to association with hear.