What could be a better way to express "reacting to something with immediate attention"? Like, assuming that you are a job seeker and you've overheard someone talking about a job opportunity, so at that moment, you suddenly become attentive and feel compelled to learn it among the other things you might have heard. I need a word for such a reaction.

By the way, it's not necessarily a dangerous or bad thing for you in this case. Just something that you feel important.

  • 1
    Are you looking for a single word, or will a phrase or idiom do as well? You can add the relevant tags to your question to make that clear.
    – cigien
    Apr 25, 2021 at 3:42
  • Yes, a single word would be better. I'm sorry about not using tags because the website does not allow me to use the word "word", and some other relevant tags are for premium users.
    – bokipah557
    Apr 25, 2021 at 6:41
  • Consider focus.
    – Xanne
    Apr 25, 2021 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


An idiom that can be used in this situation is prick up (one's) ears

To become more or particularly alert, intrigued, or enthusiastic.

In your example, you could say

I'm looking for a job, so when I overheard someone talking about a job opportunity, my ears pricked up.

A variation of this spelling is perk up (one's) ears which is the one I'm more familiar with.

  • That’s usually spelled “pricked up ... english.stackexchange.com/q/28851
    – Jim
    Apr 25, 2021 at 5:02
  • @Jim That's interesting, thanks. I looked it up, and it seems they're both variants that mean the same thing. There does seem to be a preference (at least in that answer) for "pricked up" so I'll edit my answer (though I always thought it was "perked up")
    – cigien
    Apr 25, 2021 at 5:08

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