We 'listen' when we're being told something. Is there another verb for 'listening' to an answer to a question we asked?

Is 'receiving' an appropriate word for it? It sounds reasonable in the context of the answer being in a written format

"I have received an answer"

But it doesn't sound right if the answer happens to be in an audible format (think two people face to face, instead of the answer being a recording)

P.S.: I'm not looking for 'hear'. I'm asking if there's a verb that carries the same weight as 'listen', but applies specifically to the situation of being given an answer.

  • 'Listening' focuses on the behaviour (and, behind that, the attitude) of the 'audience' (listener/s, reader/s – note that we can broaden the meaning to those not in earshot [Those people at the BBC just aren't listening to me]) – while 'receiving' focuses on coming into possession of the information (in your mind, in a letter ...). 'Pay attention to' is synonymous with 'listen to'. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 13:55
  • You could say you "heard her answer" (which simply means "received audibly", but lacks the sense of having understood, as Edwin says).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 14:02
  • "Did you get an answer from Jane about foo?" "Yes, I received her response yesterday via voicemail." (More than likely, though, "She called me and gave me an answer yesterday.")
    – SrJoven
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 14:05
  • 1
    The answer was absorbed or assimilated or comprehended or accepted or taken or received or gathered or pondered or recognized.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 14:59
  • 1
    This is now getting autoflagged. Perhaps everyone can continue this disccusion in chat, then just post an executive summary here and purge the rest.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 20:11

5 Answers 5


You can "accept" someone's answer, just as you can "receive" a package.

There are two competing connotations to "accepting" an answer, however: in the first, you simply "take receipt of it", without passing judgement; in the second, you are contrasting what you did to "rejecting" the answer: you both "took receipt" and "approved" of it.

For examples of the first connotation (take receipt without passing judgment or approving), which seems to be what you're seeking:


To take or receive (something offered) willingly.


Take something offered; (trans) to take something that someone gives you

Oxford Dictionaries Online:

Consent to receive (a thing offered)


(trans) To take (what is offered or given); receive, esp. willingly


(a) To receive willingly and (b) To be able (or designed) to take or hold (something applied or added)

Google Definition:

Consent to receive (a thing offered).

"He accepted a pen from George"

synonyms: receive, take, get, gain, obtain

  • I did consider "accept". As you say, when asking someone to "accept" an answer, we're asking the person to both receive it and approve of it, without a choice. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:22
  • I think you missed a subtlety in my post: accept can mean either take receipt without passing judgment either way, or take receipt and (simultaneously) approve.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:24
  • My bad! I haven't seen the word "accept" used in situations where one is expected to receive an answer, without passing a judgement. Could you give me an example? Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:34
  • No problem. See my updated answer with the "receive without judgement" definition from several dictionaries (always the first definition).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:51
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    Sounds acceptable! It's not quite the same as replacing 'listening' in "listening to an answer". 'Accepting' sounds a bit passive. I'll "accept" your answer though, with the connotation that indicates approval :) Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 15:56

1) Lots of words and metaphors in this example that mean listen, including receive, attend/make one's ear attentive, incline one's heart to understanding

...if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand... Proverbs 2:1-5 ESV

1b) Again receive/receive in one's heart

...Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart... Ezekiel 3:10 ESV

2) Another is pay attention

Pay attention to what you hear... Mark 4:2-4 ESV

3) Aother is give ear

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak... Deuteronomy 32:1-2 ESV

...give ear to his commandments... Exodus 15:26 ESV

3b) Here is again give ear and attend

Who among you will give ear to this, will attend... Isaiah 42:23 ESV

4) some more variations are incline/incline one's ear and apply one's heart

Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart... Proverbs 22:17-18 ESV

Incline your ear, and come to me...* Isaiah 55:2-3 ESV

...he inclined to me and heard my cry... Psalm 40:1-3 ESV

5) more variations are awaken one's ear and open one's ear; also be taught

...he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear... Isaiah 50:4-5 ESV

...he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings.

6) this includes give ear, attend, understand and take it to heart

Who among you will give ear to this, will attend ... but he did not understand; it burned him up, but he did not take it to heart. Isaiah 42:23-25 ESV

7) another is accept/accept instruction/be instructed

...accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future Proverbs 19:20 ESV

8) similar to above is be guided

Where there is no guidance, a people falls... Proverbs 11:14 ESV

9) hark/heark and harken/hearken are archaic words for listen

10) more modern words that can be used for listen include consider, heed, mind


In this case, if you are speaking to the person from whom you are awaiting an answer, I would say "Yes, I heard you." or "Yes, I understood that.". In cases such as "Did you receive a response from Jane?", you might say "Yes, I did get her response, and it was quite clear."

  • I'm looking for a verb, not a phrase or a sentence. Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 14:17

You can say, I'm still processing - you listened to the words, heard the information - but haven't assimilated it yet.

Or, for just a verb: "I'm focused on your answer" which is implies listening with intent, not listening while playing on your phone.


I believe you are looking for

pay attention
(idiomatic, intransitive) To attend; to be attentive; to focus one's attention.

For example when talking to a child who is playing a game while I'm trying to tell them something, I might tell them to

Pay attention when I'm talking to you.

Or when someone stops talking because it looks like the person they're talking to is not listening, they might say

Keep going, I am actually paying attention.

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