\ 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 In an increasingly high-tech world, board games are gaining a new audience: people yearning to unplug and connect with friends. Linda Greenstein,, "Your play: Board games are making a comeback," 15 Jan. 2020 Marvel fans had been yearning for a crossover between the shows since they were announced because Cloak and Dagger crossed paths with the Runaways in Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona’s original Runaways comic. Chancellor Agard,, "Marvel's Cloak & Dagger canceled after two seasons on Freeform," 24 Oct. 2019 Neymar left Barcelona for PSG in a world-record $245 million purchase just two years ago, but his Parisian adventure has not gone as planned, and he's been yearning for a Barcelona reunion. Avi Creditor,, "Transfer Deadline Day Live Blog: Will Neymar, Icardi, Others Move?," 2 Sep. 2019 Winter is here, and there’s a yard-long stretch of stitches in my closet yearning to become a scarf. The Editors, Outside Online, "How to Chill Out and Relax Already," 1 Jan. 2020 Ticketholders went back in time to Northeast Ohio as the Great Depression loomed, following characters through a maze of historic sites searching for clues to solve the disappearance of a girl yearning for a life outside her sleepy hometown. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "Power pairs, such as ‘Rastus and Hattie’ and ‘Tiny Houses,’ were the talk of the stage this season: Year in Review 2019," 28 Dec. 2019 Sounds of bluegrass, soul, and even country music played to the disgruntled crowd, who were yearning for his more signature melodic progressions and colossal electro climaxes. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 40 Greatest Dance Albums of the Decade: Staff List," 26 Nov. 2019 His beauty is surely no small part of why directors love Pattinson, particularly the kind of director who yearns for an actor who is at once performer and prop. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "In The Lighthouse, Beauty Battles the Beast," 24 Oct. 2019 There are people who yearn for real scenes showing how people in North Korea live. San Diego Union-Tribune, "North Korea-born YouTubers offer peek into lives in homeland," 26 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for yearn

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for yearn

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Yearn.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for yearn


How to pronounce yearn (audio)

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

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).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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