[lawng-ing, long-]
See more synonyms for longing on Thesaurus.com
  1. strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant: filled with longing for home.
  2. an instance of this: a sudden longing to see old friends.
  1. having or characterized by persistent or earnest desire: a longing look.

Origin of longing

before 1000; Middle English; Old English langung; see long2, -ing1
Related formslong·ing·ly, adverblong·ing·ness, noun

Synonyms for longing

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Synonym study

1. See desire.

Antonyms for longing

1. apathy.


[lawng, long]
verb (used without object)
  1. to have an earnest or strong desire or craving; yearn: to long for spring; to long to return home.

Origin of long

before 900; Middle English longen, Old English langian grow longer, yearn after, summon; see long1

Synonyms for long

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See yearn.


[lawng, long]
verb (used without object)
  1. Archaic. to be suitable or fitting.
  2. Obsolete. to be the possession; belong.

Origin of long

1150–1200; Middle English longen to be suitable or proper, belong, derivative of long on account (of), attributable (to), dependent (on), Old English gelang belonging (to), dependent (on); see along
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for longing

Contemporary Examples of longing

Historical Examples of longing

  • "Why—I've never worn a low dress—not really low," I said, longing but dubious.

  • Rico started off, as if driven by the longing that now took possession of him.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • It was done, and Lucy Ann looked at herself with a smile all suffused by love and longing.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • It struck a note she never knew, and wakened her to life and longing.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • The temptation of his longing seemed more than he could long withstand.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

British Dictionary definitions for longing


  1. a prolonged unfulfilled desire or need
  1. having or showing desire or needa longing look
Derived Formslongingly, adverb


  1. Crawford Williamson. 1815–78, US surgeon. He was the first to use ether as an anaesthetic


  1. having relatively great extent in space on a horizontal plane
  2. having relatively great duration in time
    1. (postpositive)of a specified number of units in extent or durationthree hours long
    2. (in combination)a two-foot-long line
  3. having or consisting of a relatively large number of items or partsa long list
  4. having greater than the average or expected rangea long memory
  5. being the longer or longest of alternativesthe long way to the bank
  6. having more than the average or usual quantity, extent, or durationa long match
  7. seeming to occupy a greater time than is really soshe spent a long afternoon waiting in the departure lounge
  8. intense or thorough (esp in the phrase a long look)
  9. (of drinks) containing a large quantity of nonalcoholic beverage
  10. (of a garment) reaching to the wearer's ankles
  11. informal (foll by on) plentifully supplied or endowed (with)long on good ideas
  12. phonetics (of a speech sound, esp a vowel)
    1. of relatively considerable duration
    2. classified as long, as distinguished from the quality of other vowels
    3. (in popular usage) denoting the qualities of the five English vowels in such words as mate, mete, mite, moat, moot, and mute
  13. from end to end; lengthwise
  14. unlikely to win, happen, succeed, etca long chance
  15. prosody
    1. denoting a vowel of relatively great duration or (esp in classical verse) followed by more than one consonant
    2. denoting a syllable containing such a vowel
    3. (in verse that is not quantitative) carrying the emphasis or ictus
  16. finance having or characterized by large holdings of securities or commodities in anticipation of rising pricesa long position
  17. cricket (of a fielding position) near the boundarylong leg
  18. informal (of people) tall and slender
  19. in the long run See run (def. 82)
  20. long in the tooth informal old or ageing
  1. for a certain time or periodhow long will it last?
  2. for or during an extensive period of timelong into the next year
  3. at a distant time; quite a bit of timelong before I met you; long ago
  4. finance into a position with more security or commodity holdings than are required by sale contracts and therefore dependent on rising prices for profitto go long
  5. as long as or so long as
    1. for or during just the length of time that
    2. inasmuch as; since
    3. provided that; if
  6. no longer not any more; formerly but not now
  1. a long time (esp in the phrase for long)
  2. a relatively long thing, such as a signal in Morse code
  3. a clothing size for tall people, esp in trousers
  4. phonetics a long vowel or syllable
  5. finance a person with large holdings of a security or commodity in expectation of a rise in its price; bull
  6. music a note common in medieval music but now obsolete, having the time value of two breves
  7. before long soon
  8. the long and the short of it the essential points or facts
See also longs

Word Origin for long

Old English lang; related to Old High German lang, Old Norse langr, Latin longus


  1. (intr; foll by for or an infinitive) to have a strong desire

Word Origin for long

Old English langian; related to long 1


  1. (intr) archaic to belong, appertain, or be appropriate

Word Origin for long

Old English langian to belong, from gelang at hand, belonging to; compare along


abbreviation for
  1. longitude
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 longing

"yearning, desire," Old English langung "longing, weariness, sadness, dejection," from long (v.). Related: Longingly.



"that extends considerably from end to end," Old English lang "long," from Proto-Germanic *langgaz (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon lang, Old High German and German lang, Old Norse langr, Middle Dutch lanc, Dutch lang, Gothic laggs "long").

The Germanic words are perhaps from PIE *dlonghos- (cf. Latin longus, Old Persian darga-, Persian dirang, Sanskrit dirghah, Greek dolikhos "long," Greek endelekhes "perpetual," Latin indulgere "to indulge"), from root *del- "long."

The adverb is from Old English lange, longe, from the adjective. No longer "not as formerly" is from c.1300; to be not long for this world "soon to die" is from 1714.

The word illustrates the Old English tendency for short "a" to become short "o" before -n- (also retained in bond/band and West Midlands dialectal lond from land and hond from hand).

Long vowels (c.1000) originally were pronounced for an extended time. Sporting long ball is from 1744, originally in cricket. Long jump as a sporting event is attested from 1864. A ship's long-boat so called from 1510s. Long knives, name Native Americans gave to white settlers (originally in Virginia/Kentucky) is from 1774. Long in the tooth (1841 of persons) is from horses showing age by recession of gums. Long time no see, imitative of American Indian speech, is first recorded 1900. To be long on something, "have a lot" of it, is from 1900, American English slang.



Old English langian "to yearn after, grieve for," literally "to grow long, lengthen," from Proto-Germanic *langojanan (see long (adj.)). Cognate with Old Norse langa, Old Saxon langon, Middle Dutch langhen, Old High German langen "to long," German verlangen "to desire." Related: Longed; longing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

longing in Medicine


[lông]Crawford Williamson 1815-1878
  1. American surgeon and pioneer anesthetist who was among the first (1842) to use ether as an anesthetic.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with longing


In addition to the idioms beginning with long

  • long ago
  • long and short of it, the
  • long arm of the law, the
  • long face
  • long haul
  • long in the tooth
  • long shot, a
  • long suit
  • long time no see

also see:

  • as long as
  • at (long) last
  • before long
  • come a long way
  • (long) drawn out
  • go a long way toward
  • happy as the day is long
  • in the long run
  • make a long story short
  • so long

Also see underlonger.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.