\ ˈyərn How to pronounce yearn (audio) \
yearned; yearning; yearns

Definition of yearn

intransitive verb

1 : to long persistently, wistfully, or sadly yearns to make a difference
2 : to feel tenderness or compassion

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Other Words from yearn

yearner noun
yearningly \ ˈyər-​niŋ-​lē How to pronounce yearningly (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for yearn

long, yearn, hanker, pine, hunger, thirst mean to have a strong desire for something. long implies a wishing with one's whole heart and often a striving to attain. longed for some rest yearn suggests an eager, restless, or painful longing. yearned for a stage career hanker suggests the uneasy promptings of unsatisfied appetite or desire. always hankering for money pine implies a languishing or a fruitless longing for what is impossible. pined for a lost love hunger and thirst imply an insistent or impatient craving or a compelling need. hungered for a business of his own thirsted for power

yearn, long, and pine mean to desire something very much. yearn is used of a very eager desiring along with restless or painful feelings. They're yearning for freedom. long is used when someone truly wants something and often tries very hard to get it. She longed to become a successful writer. pine is used when someone is growing weak while continuing to want something that is impossible to get. She was pining away for her long lost friend.

Examples of yearn in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This version really leans into the erotic undertones of the original — students write each other yearning poems. Allison P. Davis, The Cut, "Picnic at Hanging Rock," 25 May 2018 All three deliver bold responses and yearn to be more than simple commuters. Car and Driver, "2019 10Best Cars," 28 Nov. 2018 And the younger generation, kind of, is yearning for that. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Here's What 'Blue Bloods' Star Bridget Moynahan Is Eating During the Family Dinners," 3 May 2019 The location of the Tijuana shelters has made the migrants’ yearning even more intense. Kirk Semple, New York Times, "After Arduous Journey, Migrants See Stubborn Obstacle: Trump," 26 Apr. 2018 Even at this early point in her career, Franklin was frustrated creatively, yearning to record more contemporary music. Naima Cochrane, Vox, "Aretha Franklin’s long reign as the Queen of Soul, explained in 12 performances," 16 Aug. 2018 The post-Cold War peace dividend brought congressional budget caps in the late 1990s that had the armed services yearning to jettison aging or underutilized bases. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "Celebration of S.A. military coming to a rejuvenated Fort Sam," 3 May 2018 Remarkably, Russians have begun to challenge the country’s law-enforcement system publicly, and many are winning—a triumph for ordinary people yearning for authentic rule of law. Konstantin Dobrynin, WSJ, "Russia’s Future Is Rapped in an Enigma," 14 Jan. 2019 In many of his songs, people are seeking understanding about relationships that have failed, yearning for connection or railing against self-deception. Randy Lewis,, "Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats' incredible journey to sophomore album," 9 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'yearn.' 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 yearn

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for yearn

Middle English yernen, from Old English giernan; akin to Old High German gerōn to desire, Latin hortari to urge, encourage, Greek chairein to rejoice

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Statistics for yearn

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for yearn

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

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More Definitions for yearn



English Language Learners Definition of yearn

: to feel a strong desire or wish for something or to do something


\ ˈyərn How to pronounce yearn (audio) \
yearned; yearning

Kids Definition of yearn

: to desire very much

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More from Merriam-Webster on yearn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with yearn

Spanish Central: Translation of yearn

Nglish: Translation of yearn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of yearn for Arabic Speakers

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to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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