turn a deaf ear

turn a deaf ear

not pay attention to

pretend not hearing


be all ears

be listening eagerly and attentively – informal

bring something about your ears = bring something down about your ears

bring something, especially misfortune on yourself.

dry behind the ears

mature or experienced

fall on deaf ears

(of a statement or request) be ignored by others

1990 - Ellen Kuzwayo - Sit Down and Listen – All efforts by her husband to dissuade her from wishing to leave fell on deaf ears

have his ear

have access to and influence with someone

1993 - Olympian - About 50 of the freshman congressman's constituents had his ear for more than two hours.

have something by the ears

keep or obtain a secure hold on

1949 - Dylan Thomas – Letter - I am tangled in hack-work. Depression has me by the ears.

have something coming out of your ears

have a substantial or excessive amount of something – informal

1997 - Daily Express - In terms of advice, Jill's had suggestions coming out of her ears.

have an ear to the ground = keep an ear to the ground

be well informed about events and trends

The idea behind this phrase is that by putting your ear against the ground you would be able to hear approaching footsteps.

in one ear and out the other

heard but disregarded or quickly forgotten

lend an ear = lend your ears

listen to someone sympathetically or attentively

listen with half an ear

not give your full attention to someone or something.

make a pig's ear of


make a mess of - British informal

This probably developed with humorous reference to the phrase make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

turn something inferior into something of top quality

The observation that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear has been proverbial since the late 16th century. There was an earlier version which featured a goat's fleece instead of a sow's ear.

out on your ear

dismissed or ejected ignominiously – informal

1997 - Accountancy - At the age of 47, he found himself out on his ear, victim of Lord Hanson's policy of taking over companies and replacing senior management.

set by the ears

cause people to quarrel

his ears are flapping

someone is listening intently in order to overhear something not intended for them – informal

up to your ears in

very busy with or deeply involved in – informal

wet behind the ears

immature or inexperienced

his ears are burning

someone is subconsciously aware of being talked about, especially in their absence

The superstition that your ears tingle when you are being talked about is recorded from the mid 16th century. Originally it was the left ear only that was supposed to do so.

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