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.
verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to spin a yarn; tell stories.

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

Examples from the Web for yarn

Contemporary Examples of yarn

Historical Examples of yarn

  • 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
  1. (intr) to tell such a story or stories

Word Origin for yarn

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with yarn


see spin a yarn.

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