yearned; yearning; yearns

intransitive verb

: to long persistently, wistfully, or sadly
yearns to make a difference
: to feel tenderness or compassion
yearner noun
yearningly 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

Examples of yearn in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These are yearning beings living in the solitary confinement of unfulfilled hopes. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 22 Aug. 2023 Advertisement - Continue Reading Below 19 All the Yellow Suns by Malavika Kannan Coming-of-age stories are one of my favorite genres because of their timeless ability to reach into the parts of us that yearn to be unpacked. Brea Baker, ELLE, 18 Aug. 2023 This Colorado Buffalo fan base has been yearning for a team like this for so long. Mark Heim |, al, 16 Sep. 2023 Georgie is complicated: an old soul wise beyond her years, yet yearning to just be a kid. Odie Henderson,, 14 Sep. 2023 View full post on Instagram While people were thrilled to see the famous quartet come together, some were still yearning to see Blake back on their screens once more. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 8 Sep. 2023 Seydoux is the most grounded in this section of the film, depressed and yearning desperately for human connection, and does some appropriately tragic but believable acting-like-she’s-doing-VFX-acting. Vulture, 4 Sep. 2023 Even after that day, though, Pence seemed to yearn for a reconciliation with Trump (and Trumpists). Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 13 Aug. 2023 Users yearned for the capability to work across such apps in an integrated way, meaning Zapier had good product fit from the start. Steve Mollman, Fortune, 11 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'yearn.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near yearn

Cite this Entry

“Yearn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to desire eagerly
: to feel tenderness or sympathy
yearner noun

More from Merriam-Webster on yearn

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