• synonyms


See more synonyms for yarn on Thesaurus.com
  1. thread made of natural or synthetic fibers and used for knitting and weaving.
  2. a continuous strand or thread made from glass, metal, plastic, etc.
  3. the thread, in the form of a loosely twisted aggregate of fibers, as of hemp, of which rope is made (rope yarn).
  4. a tale, especially a long story of adventure or incredible happenings: He spun a yarn that outdid any I had ever heard.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to spin a yarn; tell stories.
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Origin of yarn

before 1000; Middle English; Old English gearn; cognate with German Garn; akin to Old Norse gǫrn gut, Greek chordḗ intestine, chord1, Lithuanian žarnà entrails, Latin hernia a rupture, Sanskrit hirā vein
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

fleece, wool, thread, tale, anecdote, twist, lie, string, alibi, song, fable, adventure, narrative, prose, line, fabrication, potboiler

Examples from the Web for yarn

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I say, Dirk, what do you s'pose all that yarn means about to-morrow night?

  • “That be damned for a yarn,” exclaimed the other in unfeigned astonishment.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • But what were the words he was singing, this yarn he was spinning in his song?

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • The spindles, meanwhile, are revolving rapidly, spinning the yarn.

  • The yarn from the ring frame, or mule, is wound in a large cop, or on a bobbin.

British Dictionary definitions for yarn


  1. a continuous twisted strand of natural or synthetic fibres, used in weaving, knitting, etc
  2. informal a long and often involved story or account, usually telling of incredible or fantastic events
  3. spin a yarn informal
    1. to tell such a story
    2. to make up or relate a series of excuses
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  1. (intr) to tell such a story or stories
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Word Origin

Old English gearn; related to Old High German garn yarn, Old Norse görn gut, Greek khordē string, gut
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 yarn


Old English gearn "spun fiber," from Proto-Germanic *garnan (cf. Old Norse, Old High German, German garn, Middle Dutch gaern, Dutch garen "yarn"), from PIE root *ghere- "intestine, gut, entrail" (cf. Old Norse gorn "gut," Sanskrit hira "vein; entrails," Latin hernia "rupture," Greek khorde "intestine, gut-string," Lithuanian zarna "gut"). The phrase to spin a yarn "to tell a story" is first attested 1812, from a sailors' expression, on notion of telling stories while engaged in sedentary work such as yarn-twisting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with yarn


see spin a yarn.

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