• synonyms


verb (used without object)
  1. to have an earnest or strong desire; long: to yearn for a quiet vacation.
  2. to feel tenderness; be moved or attracted: They yearned over their delicate child.
Show More

Origin of yearn

before 900; Middle English yernen, Old English giernan derivative of georn eager; akin to Old Norse girna to desire, Greek chaírein to rejoice, Sanskrit háryati (he) desires
Related formsyearn·er, nounun·yearned, adjective


1. Yearn, long, hanker, pine all mean to feel a powerful desire for something. Yearn stresses the depth and passionateness of a desire: to yearn to get away and begin a new life; to yearn desperately for recognition. Long implies a wholehearted desire for something that is or seems unattainable: to long to relive one's childhood; to long for the warmth of summer. Hanker suggests a restless or incessant craving to fulfill some urge or desire: to hanker for a promotion; to hanker after fame and fortune. Pine adds the notion of physical or emotional suffering as a result of the real or apparent hopelessness of one's desire: to pine for one's native land; to pine for a lost love.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for yearned

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But much as he yearned to do so, he dared not search the wall.

  • No other woman since the world began had been so fit for love, had yearned for it so hungrily.

  • How she had yearned for the comfort of it when her children were born.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • Perhaps he yearned for companionship and welcomed the sight of living things.

  • The daughter fed the horse day by day, but she was lonely and yearned for her father.

British Dictionary definitions for yearned


verb (intr)
  1. (usually foll by for or after or an infinitive) to have an intense desire or longing (for); pine (for)
  2. to feel tenderness or affection
Show More
Derived Formsyearner, noun

Word Origin

Old English giernan; related to Old Saxon girnian, Old Norse girna, Gothic gairnjan, Old High German gerōn to long for, Sanskrit haryati he likes
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 yearned



Old English geornan (Mercian), giernan (West Saxon), giorna (Northumbrian), from Proto-Germanic *gernijanan (cf. Gothic gairnjan "to desire," German begehren "to desire"), from *gernaz (cf. Old High German gern, Old Norse gjarn "desirous," Old English georn "eager, desirous," German gern "gladly, willingly"), from PIE root *gher- "to like, want" (see hortatory). Related: Yearned; yearning.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper