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[oh-ver-heer] /ˌoʊ vərˈhɪər/
verb (used with object), overheard, overhearing.
to hear (speech or a speaker) without the speaker's intention or knowledge:
I accidentally overheard what they were saying.
Origin of overhear
1540-50; over- + hear
Related forms
overhearer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for overhear
  • To be guilty of the offense of eavesdropping, there must be a deliberate and wilful intention to overhear the communication.
  • Offers to sell you drugs, or conversations about drugs that you overhear.
  • Offers to sell you drugs, or conversation about drugs that you overhear.
  • Be aware that others may overhear your conversations with students.
  • Prior to walking away, he had become delusional and believed the house was bugged so people could overhear his conversations.
  • To be guilty of the offense of eavesdropping, there must be a deliberate and wilful intention to overhear the conversation.
  • Be aware of what they may overhear from other conversations.
  • He asked to come inside so as to not have the neighbors overhear the conversation.
  • Eavesdroppers may be able to overhear the conversation.
  • Walk around the work area and try to overhear the conversations.
British Dictionary definitions for overhear


verb -hears, -hearing, -heard
(transitive) to hear (a person, remark, etc) without the knowledge of the speaker
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 overhear

"to hear what one is not meant to hear," 1540s, from over- + hear. The notion is perhaps "to hear beyond the intended range of the voice." Old English oferhieran also meant "to not listen, to disregard, disobey" (cf. overlook for negative force of over; also Middle High German überhaeren, Middle Dutch overhoren in same sense). Related: Overheard; overhearing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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