use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

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.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

ear 1 (îr)
Share:
n.
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.
Idioms:
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.
onits/someone'sear
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.]

earlessadj.
(click for a larger image)
ear1
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)
ear1

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
ear 2 (îr)
Share:
n.
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 ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.