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ear 1 (îr)
1. Anatomy
a. 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.
b. The part of this organ that is externally visible.
2. An invertebrate organ analogous to the mammalian ear.
3. The sense of hearing:a sound that grates on the ear.
4. Sensitivity or receptiveness to sound, especially:
a. Sharpness or refinement of hearing:a singer with a good ear for harmony.
b. The ability to play a passage of music solely from hearing it:plays the piano by ear.
c. Responsiveness to the sounds or forms of spoken language:a writer with a good ear for dialogue; has an ear for foreign languages.
5. Sympathetic or favorable attention:"[The president] wavers between the two positions, depending on who last had his ear"(Joseph C. Harsch).
6. Something resembling the external ear in position or shape, especially:
a. 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.
b. A projecting handle, as on a vase or pitcher.
7. 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.
8. earsInformal Headphones.
all ears
Acutely attentive:Tell your storywe're all ears!
coming out of (one's) ears
In more than adequate amounts; overabundant.
give/lendan ear
To pay close attention; listen attentively.
have/keepan ear to the ground
To be on the watch for new trends or information.
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.
In a state of amazement, excitement, or uproar:a controversial movie that set the film industry on its ear.
up to (one's) ears
Deeply involved or occupied fully:I'm up to my ears in work.

[Middle Englishere, fromOld Englisheare; see ous- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

(click for a larger image)
top: a human ear
A. auricle
B. semicircular canals
C. cochlea
D. cochlear nerve
E. Eustachian tube
F. eardrum
G. ear canal
bottom: on a pitcher
(click for a larger image)

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
ear 2 (îr)
The seed-bearing spike of a cereal plant, such as corn.
intr.v. eared, ear·ing, ears
To form or grow ears.

[Middle English ere, from Old English ēar; see ak- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.