Do the words hear and ear have the same root? Ear can be traced to the Old English term eare, from Proto-Germanic auso, from Proto-Indo-European hews. All this while the definition stayed the same, but here it might go back to the PIE term for "observe", keu, which may be related to the word for "to see", hew. It's complicated, to say the least. Hear only gets more complicated as we go back: it traces to Old English hieran (with variations including heren, heran, and hyran), which is reconstructed as deriving from the Proto-Germanic term hauzjan (still meaning "to hear"), from the Proto-Indo-European abomination of a reconstruction hkhowsyeti, which literally meant "sharp-eared". Drop the PIE word for "sharp", hek, and we roughly get hows, a word for "ear", and a suffix, yeti (not the monster). Hows connects to hews, and the rest is history. Literally. Interestingly enough, on a side note, the word ear as in ear of corn has different roots; it's from Old English aeher, from Proto-Germanic akhuz, from the Proto-Indo-European word ak, meaning "sharp".
Adam Aleksic, an incoming freshman at Harvard University, has been described as the internet's sixth most famous etymologist. He has disturbing interests in linguistics, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law, and he loves writing about himself in the third person.
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