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hear·ken also har·ken (härkən)
Share:
intr.v. hear·kened, hear·ken·ing, hear·kens
Archaic To listen attentively; give heed.
Phrasal Verb:
hearken back
Usage Problem To hark back.

[Middle English herknen, from Old English hercnian; see kous- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: Traditionally, hearken means "to listen." The word has an archaic and formal air today, in part stemming from its extensive use in the King James Bible (as in Mark 7:14 "Hearken unto me, every one of you") and in traditional storytelling. In contemporary usage, hearken is more often used where one might expect hark, no doubt because of sound similarity: The movie hearkens back to the sci-fi films of the 1950s. The Usage Panel has mixed feelings about this. In our 2009 survey, just 48 percent accepted this example.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.

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