Hear an’ Ear

Strangely, hear and ear are not cognates. Huh.

ear:

“organ of hearing,” O.E. eare “ear,” from P.Gmc. *auzon (cf. O.N. eyra, Dan. øre, O.Fris. are, O.S. ore, M.Du. ore, Du. oor, O.H.G. ora, Ger. Ohr, Goth. auso), from PIE *ous- with a sense of “perception” (cf. Gk. aus, L. auris, Lith. ausis, O.C.S. ucho, O.Ir. au “ear,” Avestan usi “the two ears”). The belief that itching or burning ears means someone is talking about you is mentioned in Pliny’s “Natural History” (77 C.E.). Until at least the 1880s, even some medical men still believed piercing the ear lobes improved one’s eyesight. Meaning “handle of a pitcher” is mid-15c. (but cf. O.E. earde “having a handle”). To be wet behind the ears “naive” is implied from 1914. Phrase walls have ears attested from 1610s. Ear-bash (v.) is Australian slang (1944) for “to talk inordinately” (to someone).

hear:

O.E. heran (Anglian), (ge)hieran, hyran (W.Saxon) “to hear, listen (to), obey, follow; accede to, grant; judge,” from P.Gmc. *hausjan (cf. O.N. heyra, O.Fris. hora, Du.horen, Ger. hören, Goth. hausjan), perhaps from PIE *kous- “to hear” (see acoustic). For spelling, see see head (n.); spelling distinction between hear and heredeveloped 1200-1550. O.E. also had the excellent adjective hiersum “ready to hear, obedient,” lit. “hear-some” with suffix from handsome, etc. Hear, hear! (1680s) was originally imperative, used as an exclamation to call attention to a speaker’s words; now a general cheer of approval. Originally it was hear him!

Taken from the etymonline.com dictionary. Fun times, eh?

Leave a Reply