Old English heran (Anglian), (ge)hieran, hyran (West Saxon) "to hear, perceive by the ear, listen (to), obey, follow; accede to, grant; judge," from Proto-Germanic *hauzjan (source also of Old Norse heyra, Old Frisian hora, Dutch horen, German hören, Gothic hausjan), from PIE *kous- "to hear" (see acoustic). The shift from *-z- to -r- is a regular feature in some Germanic languages.
For the vowels, see head (n.); spelling distinction between hear and here developed 1200-1550. Meaning "be told, learn by report" is from early 14c. Old English also had the excellent adjective hiersum "ready to hear, obedient," literally "hear-some" with suffix from handsome, etc. Hear, hear! (1680s) originally was imperative, an exclamation to call attention to a speaker's words ("hear him!"); now a general cheer of approval. To not hear of "have nothing to do with" is from 1754.
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