Did You Know?
Although yen suggests no more than a strong longing these days (as in "a yen for a beach vacation"), at one time someone with a yen was in deep trouble indeed. The first meaning of yen was an intense craving for opium. The late 19th-century English term evolved from the Cantonese yīn-yáhn, which itself combines yīn, meaning "opium," and yáhn, meaning "craving." In English, the Chinese syllables were transformed to yen-yen and ultimately abbreviated to simply yen. Eventually, yen was generalized to the more innocuous meaning of "a strong desire," and the link to drug cravings was lost. (The name for the Japanese currency comes from Japanese en, an earlier Japanese word meaning "circle," referring to the shape of a coin.)
"Charlie Partin grew up in the Florida Panhandle, lived for 20 years in New Port Richey, leaving his mark as an architect and an artist, before following a yen to create sculptures in the rolling hills of southeast Nebraska." — Michele Miller, The Tampa Bay Times, 16 Feb. 2019
"The state Department of Agriculture created the Pennsylvania Pursue Your Scoops Ice Cream Trail that those with a yen for the sweet treat can follow to various independent, family owned creameries, sampling the tasty wares and getting a 'passport' stamped at each of the 12 stops along the way." — Linda Stein, Well + Good, 21 Mar. 2019
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to complete a synonym of yen meaning "a strong desire": ap _ _ t _ n _ y.VIEW THE ANSWER
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