long·​ing | \ ˈlȯŋ-iŋ \

Definition of longing

: a strong desire especially for something unattainable : craving

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Other Words from longing

longingly \ ˈlȯŋ-​iŋ-​lē \ adverb

Examples of longing in a Sentence

They looked with longing toward freedom. She cast a look of longing at the shop window. She never told anyone about her secret longings.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Growing up, Shan and his four sisters frequently moved around northeastern China with their parents, an experience that left the young boy longing for a more stable career. Amy Qin, The Seattle Times, "Shan Tianfang, a superstar of Chinese storytelling, dies at 83," 17 Sep. 2018 Then the crushing reality of his loss and the longing for him came rushing back. Anne Gusewelle, kansascity, "Hunt for morels brings back happy memories and rush of grief, gratitude," 16 June 2018 But a chance encounter with Mary (Heather Chrisler) in a barn during a thunderstorm also plants seeds of longing for both of them. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "In 'Mary’s Wedding,' dreams of a wedding mix with trench warfare, 100 years after WWI," 2 Apr. 2018 Others seem to be looking across the border with longing and sympathy in response to recent world events. Nicole Lamy, New York Times, "O Canada! What Should I Read?," 19 June 2018 So many of his stories begin with longing, and end in some sort of death. Allie Briggs, refinery29.com, "This Author Is Reinventing Fairy Tale Princesses, & You'll Hardly Recognize Them," 14 Mar. 2018 Far from racial animus, many express a longing for more African-Americans to make common cause with conservatives, based especially on love of country and traditionalist faith. Quin Hillyer, WSJ, "A Black Republican in the Heart of Dixie," 17 Aug. 2018 But all this time, Padgett felt a longing for Detroit. Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press, "Busted Bra Shop founder helps women find right fit in Detroit, Chicago," 26 June 2018 The next song is lit by sunshine but tempered by longing. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Kat Edmonson sings about the light and dark in the night," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'longing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of longing

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for longing

Last Updated

8 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for longing

The first known use of longing was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for longing



English Language Learners Definition of longing

: a strong desire for something or someone


long·​ing | \ ˈlȯŋ-iŋ \

Kids Definition of longing

: a very strong desire

Other Words from longing

longingly adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on longing

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for longing

Spanish Central: Translation of longing

Nglish: Translation of longing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of longing for Arabic Speakers

Comments on longing

What made you want to look up longing? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to gather or build up little by little

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