\ˈyərn \
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 \ 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

For example: In a world overrun with Christmas carols, the masses were yearning for a Thanksgiving tune. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "10 Best Viral Memes That Took Over the Internet in 2016," 12 Dec. 2016 Smith was really yearning for dedicated me time and exercise just wasn’t her thing. Elizabeth Wellington,, "South Philadelphia blogger's colorful, easy peasy art projects are collected in a cool, new book | Elizabeth Wellington," 17 May 2018 In all love, the voice concludes, there is a soul yearning for the perfect match. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Ranking Each Song From JAY-Z & Beyonce's 'Everything Is Love' Album: Critic's Pick," 17 June 2018 There are others, among them the welcome return of Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), Deadpool’s tetchy neighbor, and the cabbie Dopinder (Karan Soni), yearning for adventure. Michael Phillips,, "Ryan Reynolds takes a comic high dive into 'Deadpool 2'," 14 May 2018 The airport’s busiest season wraps around spring break, bike week and mobs of blizzard-weary Northerners yearning for sunny weather. Kevin Spear,, "Orlando airport could see most passengers ever on Saturday," 30 Mar. 2018 Those yearning for slamming bodies and banging heads on a weeknight should look no further. 9 p.m. $8. Efrain Dorado, RedEye Chicago, "5 must-see Chicago concerts this week: Cosmo's Midnight, Playboi Carti, Fake Limbs," 22 Aug. 2017 Hair dealers were banned from Ellis Island in the early 1900s for, quite literally, preying on the huddled masses yearning to breathe free., "Death Threats & $3 Ponytails: What The Fake Hair Trade Is Hiding," 9 June 2018 McDermott watched the Pacers during their opening-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and saw a team with a culture players yearned to experience for themselves. Jordan Guskey, Indianapolis Star, "New Pacer Doug McDermott grew up a Pacers, Reggie Miller fan," 6 July 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

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \
yearned; yearning

Kids Definition of yearn

: to desire very much

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Comments on yearn

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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