Definition of yearning in English:



  • A feeling of intense longing for something.

    ‘he felt a yearning for the mountains’
    • ‘Onto this fairytale princess many women projected their own unsatisfied yearnings: they identified with her vulnerability, her perceived status as a victim.’
    • ‘He was the hope of the family, especially of his father whose own showbiz yearnings had ended up in the debit column, but he was booed off stage again and again and again.’
    • ‘As the novel unreels at a pace fitting for a neighbourhood of fly fishers, Gary's adolescent yearnings and religious fears become the frame for a deeper story.’
    • ‘But while Linda wants to give up trying for a child, Pete still has parental yearnings.’
    • ‘Maimonides compares this to the intense yearnings that a man feels for a woman.’
    • ‘The outer movements are undistinguished but the central adagio swoons with escapist yearnings for the unattainable.’
    • ‘The feelings evoked; the longings unleashed; the yearnings induced; the awe inspired.’
    • ‘But life has never been kind to these devoted companions, whose romantic yearnings flounder and remain unrequited.’
    • ‘My yearnings for the taste of meat are becoming almost animalistic in their fervour.’
    • ‘By the end of the series, only one couple had succeeded in turning their parental yearnings into bundles of joy (twins, as it happened).’
    • ‘But then he wants a car with a powerful engine and the yearning returns.’
    • ‘But even in these cases, there is sometimes a lingering sense of kinship with another America, the America of unrequited yearnings.’
    • ‘No, my yearnings stemmed from pure, unadulterated greed.’
    • ‘Rorty has known the call of intense and ultimately spiritual yearnings.’
    • ‘I gave up the yearnings for a boyfriend at about 30, when I bought my first house, which may or may not be a coincidence.’
    • ‘There's an, Oh, such a hungry yearning burning inside of me.’
    • ‘The feminine side in all of us sometimes represents fulfilment of spiritual yearnings.’
    • ‘This yearning goes beyond the simple need for an anthropomorphic father - figure; rather, it goes to the very core of our being.’
    • ‘Galloway Street beautifully captures the harshness of poverty and the warm good humour of a childhood dominated by songs, yarns and the yearnings of his Irish relatives for their native land.’
    • ‘I sense the wishes and yearnings that are in your soul!’
    • ‘Its tranquil moments convey a nostalgic yearning common to Japanese folk music.’
    longing, pining, craving, desire, want, wish, hankering, urge, need, hunger, hungering, thirst, appetite, greed, lust, ache, burning, fancy, inclination, eagerness, fervour
    yen, itch
    View synonyms


  • Involving or expressing yearning.

    ‘a yearning hope’
    • ‘The veil was lifted and the eyes moved in close, so close that I imagined I could see clear into her twenty-something spinster soul and the lonely yearning girl beyond.’
    • ‘In all the yearning literature this place has spawned, the only indigenous characters are servants and bearers and extras - and that's shaming.’
    • ‘Is there no unhappy David to whom I can sing the yearning psalms of love?’
    • ‘The accompanying soundtrack has the yearning vocal of one José González.’
    • ‘Then he slowed the sound to a soft, yearning beat.’
    • ‘Martha's self-titled debut shows that raspy, yearning voice to good effect, along with a remarkably-developed songwriting talent all her own.’
    • ‘Taking his cues from such veterans as David Byrne, Moore uses his latest release as a vehicle for exploring the heart of an artist given over to yearning love and crusading anger.’
    • ‘He had something of a hungry, yearning look to his face.’
    • ‘What is the suppressed focus, the yearning urge in our species to be so neccessarily linked?’
    • ‘The tenderest, most yearning word in Fleming's lexicon is ‘cruel’.’
    • ‘There's a mixture of trepidation and euphoria to this song as it timidly climbs: the yearning sound of the violin constantly clawing over the quickening beat.’
    • ‘It allows yearning singles to evaluate what a persons' personality is like even before they get an opportunity to make awkward eye contact.’
    • ‘Running through the film is a yearning nostalgia for the social unity of the war years, remembered fondly as Britain's ‘finest hour’.’
    • ‘Instinct kicked in and I slowly bent my head towards hers, leaning down to press my yearning lips against her innocent ones.’
    • ‘Then, with one yearning look toward her uncle Deane's house, that lay farther down the river, she took to both her oars, and rowed with all her might across the watery fields back toward the Mill.’
    • ‘She gazed directly at Ryan with yearning eyes, and Ryan felt like she was speaking specifically of him, which made him feel good.’
    • ‘An occasional soul, defying all these constrains, wants to realize this truth and overcome illusion, and such a yearning soul is a fit person to become a disciple.’
    • ‘She gave a bright and curious performance in the film but it was the emotional vibrato of her rendition of ‘Over the Rainbow’ which set the yearning tone of her career.’
    • ‘John Savage's yearning flute sound, with the band closing around him like shadows in moonlight, is exquisite on Faded Beauty.’
    • ‘Throughout these films and now in Goddess, Law betrays a yearning passion to mine the inner worlds of her characters, to find out what it is that makes them cry, laugh, dance and desire.’