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to suddenly become attentive
(Usually used in context where someone only pays half attention until they hear something that makes them prick their ears. Think of a boring meeting where someone suddenly says "no pay raise" in a sentence. Hard to use idiomatically and not very common.)
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Word Family

Root: *merg-

The original sense of this root was:

boundary, border

Over time, a sizable part of the family tree has shifted toward the “markings” that show the boundary and many of the offsprings today are about the general idea of marking.

Notable English members of this family are:

  • the mark (a marking)
  • the march (the boundary of a country, NOT the walking style)
  • the margin (a boundary of sorts)
  • marquis
  • remark  (and friends)
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