Definition of prick up one's ears in English:

prick up one's ears

phrase

  • 1(especially of a horse or dog) make the ears stand erect when on the alert.

    • ‘At hearing their names the horses pricked up their ears and looked at Umanac who held out a cube of sugar each in his palms.’
    • ‘Rilleta could feel her horse prick up her ears and snort as she scented the water, and then Rilleta was kicking her on, shouting at the top of her lungs.’
    • ‘‘At least you will like the stables, Danin,’ and her mount pricked up his ears at hearing his name.’
    • ‘The mare pricked up her ears at mention of her name.’
    • ‘The dog, on hearing his voice, pricks up his ears.’
    • ‘The phone rings unexpectedly in the night, and Bronwyn pricks up her ears and lifts a dog eyebrow as if to say ‘Who was that?’’
    • ‘Our dog Bruno, who was lying beside the bed (he had forgotten his occasional master long ago) pricked up his ears and I looked towards the porch door.’
    • ‘The lad was in despair, but when the cat heard this, he pricked up his ears.’
    • ‘Cats and dogs also demonstrated their natural hunting instincts pricking up their ears when cats, mice and budgies came on the screen.’
    • ‘The dog, on hearing his voice, pricks up his ears.’
    1. 1.1(of a person) become suddenly attentive.
      ‘he pricked up his ears when he heard them talking about him’
      • ‘Excellent speeches are magnetic, but nobody wants to prick up their ears for long to listen to nothing but nonsense.’
      • ‘Jordan spoke quietly, but everyone pricked up their ears to listen.’
      • ‘Voices drifted out from the trailer and I pricked up my ears in spite of myself.’
      • ‘Blathe pricked up his ears to listen more carefully.’
      • ‘William listened and pricked up his ears when Mr. Irwin suggested that they should not waste their time on board the Norwood but keep their minds active.’
      • ‘When a player of Sundin's stature and talent speaks up about simplifying the game, about playing smart defense-first hockey, his teammates better prick up their ears.’
      • ‘On the face of it, here was a set of ideas that might have made any historical publisher prick up their ears.’
      • ‘Well, you can easily think that that made me prick up my ears, for the business has not been over good for some years, and an extra couple of hundred would have been very handy.’
      • ‘He caught a snippet of conversation from the table behind him; the name ‘Cartwright’ made him prick up his ears.’
      • ‘Getting thoroughly interested in this tale, the eavesdropper had pricked up his ears a little more.’
      listen carefully, pay attention, become attentive, begin to take notice, attend, concentrate on hearing, lend an ear, pin one's ears back
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