prick up (one's) ears

(redirected from he pricked up his ears)

prick up (one's) ears

1. Literally, of an animal, to raise its ears, as upon hearing a sudden noise. The dogs pricked up their ears and started staring outside. I wonder what they heard.
2. To pay sudden close attention to something one overhears. Be sure to prick up your ears if anything about the case is mentioned. I can't help but prick up my ears if I hear someone say my name—even if they aren't talking about me.
See also: ear, prick, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

prick up its ears

 and prick up one's ears
Fig. [for an animal or a person] to become attentive. (The animal will adjust its ears toward the sound.) The sound made the dog prick its ears up. When Fred heard his name, he pricked up his ears. She pricked her ears up when she heard her name.
See also: ear, prick, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

prick up one's ears

Listen carefully, pay close attention, as in When she heard them mention her boyfriend she pricked up her ears. This term alludes to horses raising their ears at a sudden noise. [Late 1500s]
See also: ear, prick, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

prick up your ears

If someone pricks up their ears, they start listening eagerly, because they suddenly hear an interesting sound or piece of information. Olivia pricked up her ears at the mention of James. Note: You can also say that someone's ears prick up. My ears pricked up when I heard her talk about food. Note: When animals such as dogs hear a sudden or unfamiliar noise, they prick up their ears; that is, their ears become more upright so that they can hear the sound better.
See also: ear, prick, up
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

prick up your ears

1 (especially of a horse or dog) make the ears stand erect when on the alert. 2 (of a person) become suddenly attentive.
See also: ear, prick, up
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

ˌprick up your ˈears

,

your ˈears prick up

start to listen carefully: ‘And the winner is ...’ He pricked up his ears. ‘... Michael Poole.’
This expression refers to the way dogs, horses and other animals raise their ears when they listen with attention.
See also: ear, prick, up
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

prick up (one's) ears

To listen with attentive interest.
See also: ear, prick, up
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

prick up one's ears, to

To listen attentively. This term, which alludes to horses holding up their ears at a sudden noise, dates from the sixteenth century. Shakespeare used it in The Tempest (4.1): “Like unback’d colts, they prick’d their ears.”
See also: prick, up
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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