If Bob Smith says, "Kevin is . . .", and I only hear "Kevin is", did I ignore the ". . ."? According to the dictionary, my not hearing this part is not ignoring it, if a loud noise prevented me from hearing it. According to the dictionary, it would only consider my having ignored it if I actively rejected the words in the ellipses. Personally, I would use the word in every case, but maybe that is just me.

I would define ignore as every single word I did not hear, and it would not matter why I did not hear it. If I treat ignore this way, will I confuse the listener?

  • I don't know if this is relevant to the OP, but ignore is a false friend in French and (I believe) other languages. In French, it simply means "not know", but if you use it in that sense in English you will generally be misunderstood.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 22, 2017 at 18:19
  • @ColinFine However, to be "ignorant of something" has a meaning which is closer to the French. It can simply mean "not know". It also has other meanings.
    – WS2
    Nov 22, 2017 at 19:48
  • That's true, @WS2
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:44

2 Answers 2


Ignore is used exactly in the sense which your dictionary prescribed. Merriam Webster defines it as 1. to refuse to take notice of. 2 : to reject (a bill of indictment) as ungrounded.

Since the word 'refuse' is present, we can assume that the listener did it deliberately.

If somehow, the listener couldn't get what the speaker said unintentionally (may be due to some loud noise), you should prefer "miss."

  • 1
    Yes exactly. To ignore something or someone is an active choice on the part of the listener. Not to be confused with being ignorant, which may or may not imply volition.
    – Gary
    Nov 22, 2017 at 18:26

Yes, you probably would confuse a listener as ignore is only really used when you do it deliberately. Most dictionaries seem to agree. The issue seems to be that you use your own definition for the word, so unless others new about your definition beforehand, they would get confused.

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