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  1. being or standing wide open; gaping: the yawning mouth of a cave.
  2. indicating by yawns one's weariness or indifference: The lecturer was oblivious to his yawning audience.
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Origin of yawning

before 900; Middle English; Old English geniendum. See yawn, -ing2
Related formsyawn·ing·ly, adverb


verb (used without object)
  1. to open the mouth somewhat involuntarily with a prolonged, deep inhalation and sighing or heavy exhalation, as from drowsiness or boredom.
  2. to open wide like a mouth.
  3. to extend or stretch wide, as an open and deep space.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to say with a yawn.
  2. Archaic. to open wide, or lay open, as if by yawning.
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  1. an act or instance of yawning.
  2. an opening; open space; chasm.
  3. Also yawner. Informal. something so boring as to make one yawn: Critics say the new fashions are one big yawn.
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Origin of yawn

before 900; Middle English yanen, yonen (v.), alteration of yenen, Old English ge(o)nian; akin to Old English gānian, ginan, Old Norse gīna, G gähnen, Latin hiāre (see hiatus), Greek chaínein to gape (see chasm)
Can be confusedyawn yon


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1–3. gape.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for yawning

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • A note came by a messenger who waited for no answer, as he told the yawning maid.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • "Guess I'll be turnin' in," he volunteered affably, yawning and stretching.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • With all his might he sought to save himself from the yawning chasm.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Two fat ladies, open-mouthed, were yawning with satisfaction.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • Maurice's grave would be there, a yawning chasm, to part them as long as they should live.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for yawning


  1. (intr) to open the mouth wide and take in air deeply, often as in involuntary reaction to tiredness, sleepiness, or boredom
  2. (tr) to express or utter while yawning
  3. (intr) to be open wide as if threatening to engulf (someone or something)the mine shaft yawned below
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  1. the act or an instance of yawning
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Derived Formsyawner, nounyawning, adjectiveyawningly, adverb

Word Origin

Old English gionian; related to Old Saxon ginōn, Old High German ginēn to yawn, Old Norse gjā gap
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 yawning



"act of yawning," 1690s, from yawn (v.). Meaning "boring thing" is attested from 1889.

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c.1300, yenen, yonen, from Old English ginian, gionian "open the mouth wide, gape," from Proto-Germanic *gin- (cf. Old Norse gina "to yawn," Dutch geeuwen, Old High German ginen, German gähnen "to yawn"), from PIE *ghai- "to yawn, gape" (cf. Old Church Slavonic zijajo "to gape," Lithuanian zioju, Czech zivati "to yawn," Greek khainein, Latin hiare "to yawn, gape," Sanskrit vijihite "to gape, be ajar"). Related: Yawned; yawning.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

yawning in Medicine


  1. To open the mouth wide with a deep inhalation, usually involuntarily from drowsiness, fatigue, or boredom.
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  1. The act of yawning.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.