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

Nearby words

  1. yawmeter,
  2. yawn,
  3. yawner,
  4. yawnful,
  5. yawnfully,
  6. yawningly,
  7. yawnsome,
  8. yawny,
  9. yawp,
  10. yaws

Origin of yawning

before 900; Middle English; Old English geniendum. See yawn, -ing2

Related formsyawn·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used without object)

to open the mouth somewhat involuntarily with a prolonged, deep inhalation and sighing or heavy exhalation, as from drowsiness or boredom.
to open wide like a mouth.
to extend or stretch wide, as an open and deep space.

verb (used with object)

to say with a yawn.
Archaic. to open wide, or lay open, as if by yawning.


an act or instance of yawning.
an opening; open space; chasm.
Also yawner. Informal. something so boring as to make one yawn: Critics say the new fashions are one big yawn.

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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for yawning

British Dictionary definitions for yawning



(intr) to open the mouth wide and take in air deeply, often as in involuntary reaction to tiredness, sleepiness, or boredom
(tr) to express or utter while yawning
(intr) to be open wide as if threatening to engulf (someone or something)the mine shaft yawned below


the act or an instance of yawning
Derived Formsyawner, nounyawning, adjectiveyawningly, adverb

Word Origin for yawn

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
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for yawning




To open the mouth wide with a deep inhalation, usually involuntarily from drowsiness, fatigue, or boredom.


The act of yawning.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.