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Heard of/about

Posted by R. Berg on March 05, 2005

In Reply to: Fixing sloppy typing posted by Bob on March 04, 2005

: : : : Could you please tell me the difference in the meaning of 'heard of' and 'heard about'?
: : : : Thanks

: : : In my UK English 'heard of' usually refers to a person. 'Have you heard of David Beckham?'.
: : : 'Heard about' usually refers to something a little more remote than directly to a person. 'Have you heard about David Beckham's new boots/wife/socks/friend etc, etc?'
: : : However, often the terms can be interchanged.

: : I was going to say that in US usage, they're almost interchangable ... but as I thought about it, one might say "have you heard about the car crash yesterday" where one would never say "have you heard of the car crash." It seems "heard of" is restricted to the meaning "are you familiar with ______ (add noun or pronoun or less-than-familiar name or terminology)?" "Heard about" on the other glove, means "have you been made aware of _______?"

In my part of the U.S., "Have you heard of XXX?" means "Are you aware that XXX exists (or existed, happened, etc.)?" One can ask "Have you heard of using Coca-Cola to loosen rusted bolts?" "Have you heard about XXX?" often promises more of a story, with detail, as in "Have you heard about the bank robbery downtown last night?"

Someone who has no knowledge of something will say "I've never heard of that."