[ yeen ]
/ yin /
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Definition of yean

verb (used without object)
(of a sheep or goat) to bring forth young.
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Origin of yean

1375–1425; late Middle English yenen, probably continuing Old English *geēanian to bring forth young, equivalent to ge-y- + ēanian to yean, akin to Latin agnus,Greek ámnos lamb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What else does yean mean?

Yean was once a verb for when a sheep or goat gives birth to a lamb or kid. That sense of yean, first recorded around 1375–1425, is now obsolete.

Today, yean is a pronunciation spelling—like wanna or finna—of the phrase you ain’t even in Black English, especially in the South. Yean heard about yean?!

What are some other words related to yean?


Where does yean come from?

Gonna, musta, innit, dunno, coulda, watcha, betcha, didja, tryna—English abounds with spellings that reflect the way we actually pronounce connected words.

In speech, we don’t pronounce every last syllable. We smush them together. We leave syllables out. In linguistics, this process is a type of contraction, and it’s how a phrase like you ain’t even becomes yean, spelled to pronounce its relaxed, reduced, everyday pronunciation in Black English. In fact, ain’t is also a contraction, so yean is the result of multiple contractions.

Pronunciation spellings and reductions like yean are considered nonstandard, but that certainly doesn’t mean they are wrong or ignorant. The word goodbye began as God be with you; no one is snubbing their nose at that compression. Consider, instead, how complex a form like yean is, containing all that you ain’t even conveys in a single syllable.

While yean was certainly in use well before it was recorded that way, evidence for yean can be found online by at least 2001. That same year, the rap group Three 6 Mafia (from Memphis, Tennessee) released the track “Baby Mama,” which features the word yean many times in its lyrics. Also that same year, the rap group Dirty (from Montgomery, Alabama) released a track called “Yean Heard,” or you ain’t even heard. Evidence for yean can be found in a Usenet group in 2001, as well.

The spread of yean coincides with the rise of digital communication (where nonstandard forms are very common) and hip-hop, among which was the especially influential regional genre of Southern rap. Fast forward to the 2010s, and yean joins other pronunciation spellings originating in Black English and popularized by Black culture, including finna (fixing to) and talmbout (talking about).

How is yean used in real life?

Yean is often used to express dismay or disbelief: yean know or yean heard, or you ain’t even know or you didn’t even hear about something important that was going on.

While the spelling yean may be considered nonstandard, that doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

How to use yean in a sentence

  • The Van Yean waterworks, sixteen miles away, supply water to the town.

    Forty Thousand Miles Over Land and Water|Lady (Ethel Gwendoline [Moffatt]) Vincent
  • Thank heaven, I haven't had a woman in the house these seven yean; so all's snug.

  • Long afterwards the navvies employed in the construction of the Yan Yean aqueduct received one pound sterling per day.

    Nevermore|Rolf Boldrewood

British Dictionary definitions for yean

/ (jiːn) /

(of a sheep or goat) to give birth to (offspring)

Word Origin for yean

Old English geēanian; related to Dutch oonen to bring forth young, Latin agnus lamb; see ewe
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