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yearning

[yur-ning]
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noun
  1. deep longing, especially when accompanied by tenderness or sadness: a widower's yearning for his wife.
  2. an instance of such longing.
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Origin of yearning

before 900; Middle English; Old English gierninge. See yearn, -ing1
Related formsyearn·ing·ly, adverbun·yearn·ing, adjective

Synonym study

1. See desire.

yearn

[yurn]
verb (used without object)
  1. to have an earnest or strong desire; long: to yearn for a quiet vacation.
  2. to feel tenderness; be moved or attracted: They yearned over their delicate child.
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Origin of yearn

before 900; Middle English yernen, Old English giernan derivative of georn eager; akin to Old Norse girna to desire, Greek chaírein to rejoice, Sanskrit háryati (he) desires
Related formsyearn·er, nounun·yearned, adjective

Synonyms

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1. Yearn, long, hanker, pine all mean to feel a powerful desire for something. Yearn stresses the depth and passionateness of a desire: to yearn to get away and begin a new life; to yearn desperately for recognition. Long implies a wholehearted desire for something that is or seems unattainable: to long to relive one's childhood; to long for the warmth of summer. Hanker suggests a restless or incessant craving to fulfill some urge or desire: to hanker for a promotion; to hanker after fame and fortune. Pine adds the notion of physical or emotional suffering as a result of the real or apparent hopelessness of one's desire: to pine for one's native land; to pine for a lost love.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for yearning

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But the yearning towards the parent country is too strong to be overcome.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • His heart ached with yearning more intense than any that he could recall.

    Casanova's Homecoming

    Arthur Schnitzler

  • Besides, is not the yearning for the divine simply a desire to behold the Divinity?

  • He glanced across the river as though he were yearning to accept the invitation.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • There's something in me that—I think only a son of his could have satisfied my yearning.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens


British Dictionary definitions for yearning

yearning

noun
  1. an intense or overpowering longing, desire, or need; craving
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Derived Formsyearningly, adverb

yearn

verb (intr)
  1. (usually foll by for or after or an infinitive) to have an intense desire or longing (for); pine (for)
  2. to feel tenderness or affection
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Derived Formsyearner, noun

Word Origin

Old English giernan; related to Old Saxon girnian, Old Norse girna, Gothic gairnjan, Old High German gerōn to long for, Sanskrit haryati he likes
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for yearning

yearn

v.

Old English geornan (Mercian), giernan (West Saxon), giorna (Northumbrian), from Proto-Germanic *gernijanan (cf. Gothic gairnjan "to desire," German begehren "to desire"), from *gernaz (cf. Old High German gern, Old Norse gjarn "desirous," Old English georn "eager, desirous," German gern "gladly, willingly"), from PIE root *gher- "to like, want" (see hortatory). Related: Yearned; yearning.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper