\ 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 yearn (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

Examples of yearn in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Folks these days yearn for not only human connections, but also, for indelible bonds with animals. Wendy Altschuler, Forbes, "Drive Cattle At A Luxury Cowgirl Camp In Montana," 11 May 2021 But the psychologist does yearn for more connection to the female deity. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Latter-day Saints are talking more about Heavenly Mother, and that’s where the debates and divisions begin," 8 May 2021 Backers say residents in Northern California and southeastern Washington also yearn for less government oversight and long to become part of a red state insulated from the liberal influence of large urban centers that tend to vote Democratic. Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY, "In California: Deadly virus in rabbits threatens to upend some Western ecosystems," 17 Apr. 2021 Your heart may yearn for bigger and better things in August, so your imagination could run wild. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for March 19, 2021: Libra, trusted friends give moral support; Pisces, treat yourself with respect," 19 Mar. 2021 Even as workplaces around the country have begun to open back up, employees have not knocked down the doors, leaving executives like Mr. Sitt to yearn for the example of a big municipal work force like New York’s. New York Times, "They Want You Back at the Office," 30 Apr. 2021 Consider stellar Star Clippers — a cruise company beloved by small ship aficionados who yearn for the grandeur of tall ship adventure that layers yesteryear’s sea-faring romance and authenticity with modern-day conveniences and indulgences. Laura Manske, Forbes, "G0 Wild: Discover The Best Post-Pandemic Trips Of A Lifetime," 26 Apr. 2021 It’s in being the steady, friendly voice of reason so many people yearn for in their local paper. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Fracking Shill Local Newspapers Love to Publish," 25 Mar. 2021 Malnourished by their phones and computer screens, people yearn for real-life visceral experiences. New York Times, "Up to My Eyeballs in Art at Superblue," 18 Mar. 2021

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

16 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Yearn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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

Choose the Right Synonym for yearn

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on yearn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for yearn

Nglish: Translation of yearn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of yearn for Arabic Speakers

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