In one ear and out the other

In one ear and out the other is an idiom with roots in the first century, C.E. We will examine the meaning of the idiom in one ear and out the other, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

In one ear and out the other describes the act of not heeding someone’s words or not remembering someone’s words. For instance, if a child is told not to cross the street and then crosses the street, the warning may be said to have gone in one ear and out the other. The expression in one ear and out the other is first found in English in 1385, in Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem, Troilus and Criseyde. However, the idea dates back at least to the Roman orator Quintilian, who worked in first century C.E. and said: “The things he says flow right through the ears”. The imagery is that of an empty head, with no brain to absorb the information imparted.

Examples

The conversations were nice and suggestive at first, Ben said, but he realized it was going in one ear and out the other for his active parents. (The Owensboro Times)

“Emily was always so good about letting it go in one ear and out the other, not ever saying anything. … It’s got to be hard on a child-player who also has their dad as a coach. ” (The Chronicle Tribune)

But Connie’s words go in one ear and out the other as Charlie discharges himself – without Connie’s knowledge – and goes to the local pub to continue boozing. (The Sun)

Peter (the adorable Yashua Mack), clad in a dirty red school blazer, encourages his new recruits to let worries go in one ear and out the other, because he’s seen others fall to adult pressures. (The New York Post)