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[hed-fohn] /ˈhɛdˌfoʊn/
noun, Usually, headphones
Audio. a headset designed for use with a stereo system.
any set of earphones.
1910-15; head + -phone Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for headphones
  • Noise cancelling headphones usually do away with low pitches.
  • Put on a pair of headphones and turn up the volume so that you can't even hear yourself speak.
  • They then asked listeners wearing headphones to determine whether the car was coming from the left or the right.
  • With this methodology, participants are seated in a soundproof booth and different tones are presented through headphones.
  • These were played to a group of subjects wearing headphones.
  • Right now, they've got their headphones plugged in and their hands full of stuff.
  • Better yet, they'll sell us earplugs the way they sell us headphones.
  • Second to a temporary wall, noise-cancelling headphones are the best sanity saver.
  • But in the few hours it whips around its sun the noise cancelling headphones.
  • To plug two pairs of headphones in to an iPod, you have to buy a special adapter.
British Dictionary definitions for headphones


plural noun
an electrical device consisting of two earphones held in position by a flexible metallic strap passing over the head Informal name cans
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for headphones



1914, from head (n.) + second element extracted from telephone.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for headphones


small loudspeaker (earphone) held over the ear by a band or wire worn on the head. Headphones are commonly employed in situations in which levels of surrounding noise are high, as in an airplane cockpit, or where a user such as a switchboard operator needs to keep the hands free, or where the listener is moving about or wants to listen without disturbing other people. A headphone may be equipped with one earphone or two and may include a miniature microphone, in which case it is called a headset. For listening to stereophonically reproduced sound, stereo headphones may be used, with separate channels of sound being fed to the two earphones.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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