\ 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 This is because, amid the chaos that always accompanies large-scale change and transition, people yearn for compassion, support and authenticity in their work and their lives. Beau River, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 Investors who yearn to align their portfolios with their values often face a dilemma. Michael A. Pollock, WSJ, 15 Sep. 2021 For the cover of this week’s Food & Drink Issue, Gauld gives us a glimpse of the whole range of tastes that city dwellers yearn for. Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker, 30 Aug. 2021 Grandparents yearn for disconnected, low-key fun with their grandchildren, while kids have more of an appetite for playing and exploring their environments. USA TODAY, 20 July 2021 The frustration for the bike business is that cycling has never been more popular and yet just as cyclists yearn to get out on the open road, the industry is struggling to keep its wheels turning. Mark Faithfull, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 Some folks dream of palm trees and Mickey during the summer months, but plenty of Central Floridians yearn instead for cool nights and mountain vistas. Joy Wallace Dickinson,, 23 Aug. 2021 Or yearn ahead to autumn, when the slightest change of a leaf’s color will get us a little giddy, and the prospect of football on a chilly night or a Sunday afternoon can push us over the edge of excitement. Leslie Barker, Dallas News, 1 Aug. 2021 There are some who are old enough to have been in Marseille in 1998 and Charleroi in 2000, the final throes of the old hooliganism, and who might still yearn for a little topless wander down a memory lane that has a water cannon parked at one end. New York Times, 16 July 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

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

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Yearn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 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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