See more synonyms for yearning on
  1. deep longing, especially when accompanied by tenderness or sadness: a widower's yearning for his wife.
  2. an instance of such longing.

Origin of yearning

before 900; Middle English; Old English gierninge. See yearn, -ing1
Related formsyearn·ing·ly, adverbun·yearn·ing, adjective

Synonym study

1. See desire.


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.

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

Synonyms for yearn

See more synonyms for on
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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for yearning

Contemporary Examples of yearning

Historical Examples of yearning

  • But the yearning towards the parent country is too strong to be overcome.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • His heart ached with yearning more intense than any that he could recall.

    Casanova's Homecoming

    Arthur Schnitzler

  • Besides, is not the yearning for the divine simply a desire to behold the Divinity?

  • He glanced across the river as though he were yearning to accept the invitation.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • There's something in me that—I think only a son of his could have satisfied my yearning.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

British Dictionary definitions for yearning


  1. an intense or overpowering longing, desire, or need; craving
Derived Formsyearningly, adverb


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
Derived Formsyearner, noun

Word Origin for yearn

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 yearning



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper