What word or phrase could be used to accurately describe when someone has excellent or super-sensitive hearing far beyond that of most people, where they might have, for example:

  • the ability to hear in detail a much further distance, for example an approaching aircraft 10 seconds before anyone else can hear it;
  • increased ability to differentiate and split sounds to identify and process them in parallel, for example listen to 5 or more different conversations at once in a noise room and be able to relay what was said later;
  • the ability to hear a frequency and quickly identify it approximately;
  • frustration that they always tune-in to constant or repeating background noises/sounds such as generated by electrical appliances, transformers, vibrations, ticking clocks, dripping taps, several rooms away, and even if so quiet no-one else can hear them or notice them except up close.
  • Simple "better than average" hearing might be described as "an acute sense of hearing". The ability to identify a frequency is known as "perfect pitch". Several disorders of the ear can make certain noises more irritating. The tendency to be irritated by noises likely comes with some disorders on the autism spectrum. And there probably is some fancy Latin name for "hyper-acute hearing". What sort of term were you looking for?
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 18, 2016 at 12:25
  • A friend of mine would have called it 'heightened senses' even if it is only hearing. But he's a Wolverine fan so it doesn't really count, does it? Mar 18, 2016 at 12:28
  • Sounds a bit like a Superhero if you ask me: maybe he has Batman ears, super hearing powers, the auditory range of a dog.... :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 18, 2016 at 12:37
  • Looking ideally for an all-encompassing term, but perhaps there isn't one. I've sometimes heard people refer to this as Vulcan hearing in reference to Star Trek. Mar 18, 2016 at 13:13
  • The last of your bullet points perfectly describes Misophonia or Hyperacusis.
    – Karl
    Mar 18, 2016 at 13:48

3 Answers 3


Sensitivity, the amplitude threshold (how loud the sound is) is one side. Frequency range, which tells how low- and high- pitched a sound you can perceive (provided it falls beyond your threshold) is the other side. The two are commonly seen together in an audiogram : a plot of your hear's sensitivity vs the frequency of the sound. If you get a good flat audiogram , that is one that's wide and "low" (wide spectrum and low intensity threshold btw à and 20 dB) you have normal hearing. If less than 0 you have "above-average" hearing.

If you often complain about disturbing sounds, are affected by even the smallest noises and cannot stand in general whatever ambient sound other people do, you're probably affected by hyperacusis. It is a disorder and causes much distress. It is not necessarily, in fact often the contrary, associated with an exceptional hearing.


This person could be said to have bionic hearing, or for a humorous effect, to have 'six-million-dollar hearing', 'Steve-Austin ears' or 'Jaime-Sommers ears'.

Merriam-Webster defines bionic as:

1: of or relating to bionics

2: having normal biological capability or performance enhanced by or as if by electronic or electromechanical devices

As the second definition indicates (italics mine), the word bionic can be used in a figurative sense.

Bionic Ears



Misophonia, also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, starts with a trigger. It’s often an oral sound -- the noise someone makes when they eat, breathe, chew, yawn, or whistle. Sometimes a small repetitive motion is the cause -- someone fidgets, jostles you, or wiggles their foot.

If you have a mild reaction, you might feel:

  • Anxious
  • The urge to flee
  • Disgust

If your response is more severe, the sound in question might cause:

  • Rage, Anger, Hatred
  • Panic, Fear
  • Emotional distress
  • A desire to kill or stop whatever is making the noise
  • Skin crawling
  • Suicidal thoughts

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