When you accidentally hear part of a private conversation, you overhear it. If you overhear your friends discussing the surprise party they're throwing for your birthday, you'll have to pretend to be surprised.

Some restaurants have tables so close together that it's hard not to overhear what your neighbors are talking about. And so many people walk around talking loudly on their mobile phones that it's common to overhear several conversations (or, at least one half of them) just walking down the sidewalk. This is a modern phenomenon, but overhear is an old word, from the sixteenth century idea of hearing "beyond the normal range of the voice."

Definitions of overhear
  1. verb
    hear, usually without the knowledge of the speakers
    “We overheard the conversation at the next table”
    synonyms: catch, take in
    catch, get
    perceive by hearing
    see moresee less
    type of:
    perceive (sound) via the auditory sense
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week