E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
About ones ears. Causing trouble. The allusion is to a house falling on one, or a hornets nest buzzing about ones head.
Bring the house about your ears. Set the whole family against you.
¶ If your ears burn, people say some one is talking of you. This is very old, for Pliny says, When our ears do glow and tingle, some do talk of us in our absence. Shakespeare, in Much Ado About Nothing (iii. 1), makes Beatrice say, when Ursula and Hero had been talking of her, What fire is in mine ears? Sir Thomas Browne ascribes this conceit to the superstition of guardian angels, who touch the right ear if the talk is favourable, and the left if otherwise. This is done to cheer or warn.
One ear tingles; some there be
That are snarling now at me.
Little pitchers have large ears. (See PITCHERS.)
Mine ears hast thou bored. Thou hast accepted me as thy bond-slave for life. If a Hebrew servant declined to go free after six years service, the master was to bring him to the doorpost, and bore his ear through with an awl, in token of his voluntary servitude. (Exod. xxi. 6.)
Over head and ears (in love, in debt, etc.). Wholly, desperately.
He is over head and ears in love with the maid. He loves her better than his own life.Terence in English.
To gives ones ears [to obtain an object]. To make a considerable sacrifice for the purpose. The allusion is to the ancient practice of cutting off the ears of those who loved their own offensive opinions better than their ears.
To have itching ears. Loving to hear news or current gossip. (2 Tim. iv. 3.)
To prick up ones ears. To listen attentively to something not expected, as horses prick up their ears at a sudden sound.
At which, like unbacked colts, they pricked their ears.
Shakespeare: The Tempest, iv. 1.
To set people together by the ears. To create ill-will among them; to set them quarrelling and pulling each others ears.
When civil dudgeon first grew high,
And men fell out, they knew not why;
When hard words, jealousies, and fears,
Set folks together by the ears.
Butler: Hudibras (The opening).
To tickle the ears. To gratify the ear either by pleasing sounds or flattering words.
Walls have ears. Things uttered in secret get rumoured abroad. Chaucer says, That field hath eyen, and the wood hath ears. (Canterbury Tales, v. 1,524.)