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Productivity writer Merlin Mann often uses the phrase "ears to hear" on his podcast. An example from his writing:

"a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or five after graduating from college"

Clearly, this means "advice I wish I'd been ready enough, or open minded enough to listen to".

Is this a common idiom? I've not come across it elsewhere.

Does it have any particular origins? I wonder whether it's related to this Bible verse:

"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

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Probably does. I've not heard it used in that way before. –  WS2 Nov 27 '13 at 11:46

1 Answer 1

The ear in this particular verse in Greek is:

G3775

ous

ooce

Apparently a primary word; the ear (physically or mentally): - ear.

If Merlin Mann patterned the phrase ears to hear from the Bible, it just means literal ear. I am not familiar with the usage of this as a common idiom, if it is indeed an accepted idiom.

But if I were to understand that phrase, I would have the same understanding as you. I cannot think of any meaning, but it may still depend on the context or on the adjacent sentences. I cannot see any mystery or hidden meanings behind the phrase you quoted.

I provided the Greek meaning of the word because the Bible is originally written in Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic, depending on the book.

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