Play it by Ear

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To take ones next move when one is already faced with a situation, to devise or improvise things

Etymology:

  • It is a 17th century phrase which meant to remembering or playing the song just by knowing the melody, or having the song in your mind which did not require notes to present it. But three centuries later, it meant to improvise things without certain future plan. Suppose you go to a new place without knowing about it. There you play it by ear, as you get there, then decide where to stay and what to do, hence in emergency situations people have to play it by ear.
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Jane never prepared her demo; she always plays things by ear.

Submitted on February 25, 2019

Additional definitions for 'Play it by Ear':

play it by earTo do something by guessing, intuition, or trial and error; to react to events as they occur.
play it by earTo play a song according to how it sounds, rather than from a written score.
See them all »

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Nearby phrases

Some more phrases from our dictionary similar to Play it by Ear

How to pronounce this phrase?

  1. Alex
    Alex
    US English
    Daniel
    Daniel
    British
    Karen
    Karen
    Australian
    Veena
    Veena
    Indian

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Citation

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"Play it by Ear." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 5 Apr. 2020. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/play-it-by-ear_44939>.

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