long·​ing | \ˈlȯŋ-iŋ \

Definition of longing 

: a strong desire especially for something unattainable : craving

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But some become obsessed, longing to know more about something both mysterious and frightening. Joseph P. Laycock, Smithsonian, "A Search for Mysteries and Monsters in Small Town America," 11 July 2018 Emil also creepily yearns for a young woman, Anna (Victoria Carmen Sonne), a longing that intensifies his rivalry with Johan. Hlynur Palmason, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Winter Brothers,’ a Frosty Sibling Rivalry," 27 June 2018 Mass migrations, terrorism, transnational criminal activity and international economic upheavals bring a longing for order that can play on false memories of simpler times. James Stavridis, Time, "Democracy Isn't Perfect, But It Will Still Prevail," 12 July 2018 The arrival of spring always stirs up a longing for adventure. Alex Leanse, Popular Mechanics, "How to Get Your Car Ready For Your Next Road Trip," 25 Apr. 2017 Shawn, with his troubled home life (his parents drop him off with the Matthews and/or random teachers whenever the show needs a tear-jerker episode) and longing for meaning would be more susceptible than some to a cult's advances. refinery29.com, "Let's Talk About That Cult Episode Of Boy Meets World," 6 July 2018 The falling light stokes visions of vacations past and future, the end of a thrilling day (in this case, a birthday party), and always, a sense of longing. Mackenzie Wagoner, Vogue, "Meet the Designer Behind the Space Age Interiors That Will Soothe You This Summer," 28 June 2018 Yet the gadgetry only heightened the songs’ very human longing. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "At Moogfest, Electronics Stimulate Ears and Emotions," 21 May 2018 In a recent cover story in National Review, Dougherty makes a much more far-reaching claim that a victim mentality fostered by the radical left creates utopian longings that threaten to upend the political system. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Centrist Grievance Against “Victim Politics”," 7 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.

See More

First Known Use of longing

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about longing

Statistics for longing

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for longing

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


full of whispering sounds

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!