Definition of yearn in English:



  • 1 Have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from.

    ‘she yearned for a glimpse of him’
    ‘some people yearn for a return to monarchy’
    [with infinitive] ‘they yearned to go home’
    • ‘Nevertheless, Leanna Brodie in the title role gave a remarkably moving, heartfelt performance as a woman yearning for something real amid the tawdriness around her.’
    • ‘But deep within, my spirit yearns to hear ‘a new thing’ from the church.’
    • ‘The country is yearning for clean and honest leadership.’
    • ‘While those in their 40s and 50s may feel oppressed by their jobs, resenting the daily commute to work and yearning for retirement, we are already free and full of spirit.’
    • ‘My heart aches now, yearning for you to come back and hug me for the last time before you leave.’
    • ‘I know you're yearning for more, but try to enjoy the friendship.’
    • ‘We are all constantly yearning to fly, chart new vistas, explore new horizons and find our own path.’
    • ‘Frank sang the responsorial psalm, ‘Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you my God’.’
    • ‘A nation yearning for policies that are honest.’
    • ‘She survived with her instincts and her big warm heart which yearned to reach out for a feeling she had never felt before.’
    • ‘And people are yearning for people they can believe in and trust.’
    • ‘A sub-plot sees Sanderson still yearning for his ex-wife, but reluctant to make the first move towards a reconciliation.’
    • ‘Wanting and yearning for clarity and peace of mind.’
    • ‘My heart yearned for you for months and now its desire is fulfilled!’
    • ‘It is a significant day for a nation and a region in need of, and yearning for, self-governance and an unshackling from dictatorships and oppression.’
    • ‘But more than that, the human spirit yearns to inspire.’
    • ‘There comes a point in every festival where I start yearning for something pure and weighty - not to mention the more comfy seats of the International Festival venues.’
    • ‘They have been yearning for this for a long time.’
    • ‘I starred into his eyes now calm, but deep down his spirit yearned to be free.’
    • ‘It's all about love: lust, yearning for parenthood, remembered passions and, most intriguingly, the love an author feels for her character.’
    • ‘There is a legacy of ice sports in that area and the public is yearning for it to come back.’
    • ‘Or maybe it was just Tolkien, sickened by the barbarousness of the 20th century, yearning for the certainties of a lost England that possibly never existed anyway.’
    • ‘Your adventurous spirit yearns for a different exercise to take you out of the doldrums of yet another boring workout.’
    • ‘Residents are yearning for quality services in their respective areas and this can only come about if these institutions are made smaller and efficient.’
    • ‘I do love this country and I am not about to stop yearning for change and doing what I can to affect a change - but one grows weary.’
    • ‘I was expecting to feel him bite, bracing myself for the burning sensation, afraid of it, but yearning for it more than anything I have yearned for in my life.’
    long, pine, crave, desire, want, want badly, wish, feel a longing, have a longing, covet, lust, pant, hunger, thirst, ache, be aching, itch, be itching
    hanker after, dream of, fancy, have one's heart set on, be bent on, eat one's heart out over
    have a yen, yen, be dying
    be athirst for, be desirous
    suspire for
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic Be filled with compassion or warm feeling.
      ‘no fellow spirit yearned toward her’


Old English giernan, from a Germanic base meaning eager.