I am interested, did Latin have a word meaning specifically "to listen", as opposed to "hear"? Because it did have a word for "look" (spectare), as opposed to "see" (videre).

1 Answer 1


There is auscultō, -āre, "listen to, pay attention to, give heed to".

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    Related answer showing the usage of auscultō, -āre.
    – Adam
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 4:52
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    Lewis and Short on the chronological distribution of ausculto: "in the anteclass. per. freq., but not in Lucr.; in the class. per. rare"
    – Herodotean
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 5:22
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    @Herodotean: Interesting that it had declined in frequency in the classical period, but presumably then revived at at some stage, since its descendants are common words in several modern romance languages — écouter in French, ascoltare in Italian… Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 11:11
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    In French we have both écouter (listen) and ausculter (for a physician: auscultate, examine, listen to the patient's chest)
    – Stef
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 12:35
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    @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine: some other ante-classical words also disappear, or almost disappear, during (part of) the classical period only to resurface later. caballus comes to mind: it appears in Lucilius, resurfaces in Horace and Petronius, and then of course becomes cavallo, caballo, and cheval.
    – Herodotean
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 20:11

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