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

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 But her presence on this scrubby Baltimore block quickly comes to make sense, and not only because of Willa’s longing for a grandchild. Laura Collins-hughes, BostonGlobe.com, "Waking up is hard to do," 13 July 2018 As in today’s movies, pop songs and romance novels, loss and longing generally trump joy. Charles Desmarais, SFChronicle.com, "‘Truth and Beauty’ at Legion of Honor: Pure visual pleasure of an idiosyncratic style," 29 June 2018 With Chiron making magic in your Pisces-ruled territory of unseen dreams, this is a week to explore longings in all their forms and flavors. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Weekly Horoscopes July 2-8," 29 June 2018 The pursuit is 98 percent longing, 2 percent fulfillment. Matt Warshaw, Outside Online, "The Dominance of Kelly Slater," 5 July 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

17 Sep 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).


a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!