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noun, plural yen.
  1. an aluminum coin and monetary unit of Japan, equal to 100 sen or 1000 rin. Symbol: ¥; Abbreviation: Y
  2. a former silver coin of Japan.
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Origin of yen1

1870–75; < Japanese (y)en < Chinese yuán yuan


  1. a desire or craving: I had a yen for apple pie.
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verb (used without object), yenned, yen·ning.
  1. to have a craving; yearn.
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Origin of yen2

1905–10, Americanism; probably < dialectal Chinese (OAGuangdong) yáhn, akin to Chinese yǐn craving, addiction


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

desire, urge, itch, hankering, longing, hunger, thirst, lust, yearning, passion, craving

Examples from the Web for yen

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British Dictionary definitions for yen


noun plural yen
  1. the standard monetary unit of Japan, (notionally) divided into 100 sen
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Word Origin

C19: from Japanese en, from Chinese yüan circular object, dollar


  1. a passionate, ardent, or intense longing or desire
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verb yens, yenning or yenned
  1. (intr) to yearn
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Word Origin

perhaps from Chinese (Cantonese) yăn a craving, addiction
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 yen


Japanese monetary unit, 1875, from Japanese yen, from Chinese yuan "round, round object, circle, dollar."

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"sharp desire, hunger," 1906, earlier yin "intense craving for opium" (1876), from Chinese (Cantonese) yan "craving," or from a Beijing dialect word for "smoke." Reinforced in English by influence of yearn.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with yen


see have a yen for.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.