Learn English – “Glance” is to sight as _ is to hearing


I'm looking for a word which describes a brief auditory examination. Analogous to “glance” in the sense of the following example:

At first glance, the object appeared round.

At first ____, the theme seemed to be in a minor key.

Best Answer

First, the action in at first ____ doesn't have to imply brevity--the phrase itself does that.

Secondly, you're trying to make a generalization about a idiomatic phrase but that doesn't always work. For example, take a listen sounds strange as opposed to take a look even though they are perfectly analogous.

That said, go on CNN for a few minutes and you'll hear a reporter say it. Some people may have a beef with it, but that's all part of language change; someone exercises poetic licence to generalize an idiom and if the linguistic community finds it useful/fashionable they'll adopt it.

In fact, the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) has 3 hits for at first listen, so maybe in a decade or two you'll be able to use the phrase freely.

Point is, the issue you're having isn't with a word but rather trying to generalize an existing idiom. If you're not bent on using at first ____ then it becomes trivial:

When I first listened to (or analyzed) that theme, I thought it was in a minor key, but now that I've heard it multiple times I'm sure it's in C major.