tin ear


deafness

TRANSLATION

tin = Zinn, Blech —— to have a tin ear for sth. (esp. music, speech) = kein Ohr für etw. haben (bes. Musik, Sprache), Taubheit (gegenüber einer Sache)

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“The Federal Reserve has displayed a ‘TIN EAR’ to market worries over its ongoing plan to shrink its balance sheet, economists said.”

Greg Robb - Market Watch (20 December 2018)

“Ex-Tory MP says party looks ‘incompetent, TIN-EARED and self-obsessed.”

Aina J. Khan - The Guardian (23 October 2022)

"Japan has often displayed A TIN EAR  to South Korean sensitivities over the island, which it calls Takeshima, having acquired it in the process of annexing Korea."

The Economist  (18 August 2012)

Did you
know?

tin ear
noun (informal)

- if someone has a tin ear, they are not good at understanding people’s feelings as expressed in what they are saying or doing

- a deafened or insensitive ear

tin-eared
adjective (informal)

showing an insensitivity to and inability to appreciate the elements of performed music or the rhythm, elegance, or nuances of language

Cambridge Dictionary /  Merriam-Webster


PHRASE ORIGIN

“Tin ear” was first recorded in 1915 and word detectives have suggested several theories as to its origin:

ear trumpets made of tin; tin (plate) as cheap and nasty; tin instruments (or dropped items made of tin) making a horrible sound; the use of a piece of tin on a morse buzzer to amplify the sound; tinnitus, the symptom of hearing noises in one’s ear


EAR-IDIOMS

Guess the meaning:

- to bend someone’s ear

- a dog-ear

- (one’s) ears must be burning

- cloth ears

- music to my ears

- to play by ear

- to be wet behind the ears

- to have Van Gogh’s ear for music

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- to bend someone’s ear = to talk to someone for a long time, usually causing them to become bored or annoyed.

- a dog-ear = the corner of a page of a book that has been turned down to mark one’s place.

- (one’s) ears must be burning = one intuits that people were talking about them, despite not witnessing it.

- cloth ears = a humorous name for one who has not heard something that has been said.

- music to my ears = to be exciting or pleasant to hear.

- to play by ear = to decide how to act in or deal with a particular situation in an adaptive, flexible, or improvised way.

- to be wet behind the ears = to be inexperienced, often because one is young.

- to have Van Gogh’s ear for music = (humorous) to be unable to distinguish differences in musical pitch, especially in one’s own singing; to be tone deaf. Vincent Van Gogh, a Dutch painter from the late-19th century, famously severed part of his own left ear


ELEPHANT EARS ON TOAST!

An exclusive London restaurant once advertised: “Catering for every taste, we serve every dish”.

A food journalist decided to put the restaurant to the test:

FJ: “Waiter! Am I given to understand that you serve every dish?”

W: “That is absolutely correct, Sir."

FJ: “In that case, bring me Elephant Ears on Toast!”

W: “Certainly, Sir! Would Sir be preferring African or Indian Elephant Ears?”

Somewhat perplexed, the journalist stuttered:

FJ: “B.b.b.bring m. me African Elephant Ears.”

W: “Certainly, Sir!”

Returning a few minutes later, the waiter smugly announced:

W: “I’m most terribly sorry, Sir,… but we have no toast!”


SYNONYMS

- unable or unwilling to hear or pay attention to something:

dispassionate about, heedless, heedless of, impervious (to), indifferent (to), insensible (to), intractable, oblivious (to), to listen blind, unaffected (by), unaware (of),unconcerned (about, with) unconscious of, unhearing, unmindful of, unmoved (by), unmoved by, unresponsive (to), untouched (by)


SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“It’s annoying that many businesses have A TIN EAR regarding complaints.”


HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

https://donorbox.org/please-become-a-friend-of-owad-3

and,

Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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