About one's ears. Causing trouble. The allusion is to a house falling on one, or a hornet's nest buzzing about one's head.
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 kave large ears. (See Pitchers.)
“He is over head and ears in love with the maid. He loves her better than his own life.” —Terence in English.
To give's one's 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.
“At which, like unbacked colts, they pricked their ears.”
Shakespeare: The Tempest, iv. 1.
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).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894