Definition of yarn in English:



  • 1mass noun Spun thread used for knitting, weaving, or sewing.

    ‘hanks of pale green yarn’
    count noun ‘a fine yarn for a lightweight garment’
    • ‘Typically, American stocking factories spun their own wool into yarn or thread.’
    • ‘Zhang created a steelworks at Wuhan, textile mills, and factories producing cement, glass, paper, cotton yarn and cloth, and leather goods.’
    • ‘The first water-powered cotton spinning mills typically expanded production by putting out yarn to be woven by members of farming families.’
    • ‘In another building, not far from where the sewing is taking place, cotton is spun into yarn and turned into a material.’
    • ‘There was a guy in there showing a girl how to spin yarn using a spindle.’
    • ‘Raw flax and wool was spun into yarn, this was then dyed or bleached, woven into cloth and then cut and sewn into the garments their families needed.’
    • ‘The floor was littered with baskets of differently-colored yarn and thread, and a few spinning wheels stood near the far end of the chamber.’
    • ‘The cotton gets grown in India, then spun into yarn somewhere else, then dyed, knit, cut and sewn all in different countries.’
    • ‘Ann Kemp left Lancashire in the mid-1980s to farm on Islay, hand shearing her own rare breed sheep, spinning their wool into yarn, dyeing it with natural dyes and knitting it.’
    • ‘The plan now is to get hold of some fleece or other spinnable fibre, infuse it with power from various herbs and additives, spin it into yarn using my magic spindle, then weave it into magical cloth.’
    • ‘There was a curtain of blue beads and green and blue shells threaded with shimmering silver yarn, turning the doorway into a magical entrance to a seascape.’
    • ‘The cotton would be cleaned and then spun into yarn or thread.’
    • ‘My mother sewed most of my clothes as a child, so I have an affinity for patterns, cloth, thread and yarn.’
    • ‘It is made from silk or cotton yarn and is woven using a wooden loom.’
    • ‘The gold-coloured fibre is spun into a breath-taking range of textured yarn and woven into a spectrum of colourful floor coverings, wall hangings and artifacts.’
    • ‘Older women continue to weave long, colorful sashes with red wool yarn on a white cotton background.’
    • ‘Many of the second and third generation of settlers grew flax and spun and wove yarn in addition to tending a small farm.’
    • ‘I have crewel yarn and silk thread, and I'm determined to make something of it.’
    • ‘There is also a deep fascination with texture from the fine silk cotton yarn, to the merino and the matted felt coats she constructs.’
    • ‘The use of wool, cotton, silk, flax, or some other plant or animal fibre yarn or thread to produce textiles of various sorts by criss-crossing the yarns together in at least two directions.’
    thread, cotton, wool, fibre, filament, strand
    View synonyms
  • 2informal A long or rambling story, especially one that is implausible.

    ‘he never let reality get in the way of a good yarn’
    • ‘The detective yarn is one of the most formally defined modes of storytelling.’
    • ‘The Dock Museum is hosting a day of seasonal yarns and tall tales with renowned Lakeland storyteller Taffy Thomas on Saturday, December 18.’
    • ‘The spin doctors catch the civilian sheep off guard, whip up a public frenzy to support a whole new war, and spin one of the biggest yarns in modern history.’
    • ‘Carey satirizes literary culture, plays with archetypes, exoticism, and the convolutions of travel yarns, and evokes Malaysia and Indonesia with aplomb.’
    • ‘It's a treat and guaranteed to having you curling up in laughter at some of the yarns and stories from times past.’
    • ‘But it's all still a tale, a yarn, a story, a narrative.’
    • ‘The stories have the exaggerated feel of campfire yarns, amusing anecdotes you'd tell your buddy, but they are told from behind the standing mics, with guitars strapped in place.’
    • ‘The open fire is a focal point around which many yarns are spun and stories told.’
    • ‘Mix the ingredients and a compelling story emerges - not only because it is a cracking yarn but because we think we know most of the details already.’
    • ‘Thrillers, adventures, childhood yarns, shaggy dog stories, ‘straight’ fiction written with humour, heart and psychological insight.’
    • ‘I'm relieved to see the DVD catalogue is maturing fast, with standard movies joining what seemed to be almost exclusively blockbuster effect-laden thrillers and adventure yarns.’
    • ‘This is a monthly night out, and we are told it is also a very unique evening, where everyones gathers around the fire, and they travel from far and near and tell stories, swap yarns, ceol agus craic, and it is guaranteed to be a great night.’
    • ‘This would contain short stories, poetry, yarns, jokes, etc.’
    • ‘John Cunliffe wrote his Pat stories after hearing yarns from the friendly man who ran his local Lake District post office, and used his own experience of running a mobile library in rural Northumberland.’
    • ‘Since then he has kept returning to them, trying to find the real essential story behind the detective yarns.’
    • ‘They travelled from near and far to join in the celebrations with many swapping tales and yarns of growing up in the area.’
    • ‘He was a gifted conversationalist and had many fine stories and yarns which he could embellish with style.’
    • ‘Enjoy an evening of spell-binding stories and ripping yarns at a special evening of storytelling at St Catherines Church, Patterdale Road, Windermere, on Friday.’
    • ‘And maybe even worse than that, it seems we all have an appetite for good yarns like the story of the Harvard student.’
    • ‘As all wine drinkers know, the Australian wine story is a great yarn.’
    story, tale, anecdote, fable, parable, traveller's tale, fairy story, rigmarole, saga, sketch, narrative, reminiscence, account, report, history
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    1. 2.1Australian, NZ A chat.
      ‘he had a bit of a yarn with the others’
      • ‘And he did exactly what I'd been trained to do; he sat down and we had a cup of tea at the table out there, a bit of a yarn.’
      • ‘Rene laughed at me, having overheard my long phone chat and assumed it was some old buddy, and I told her that no, it was still the Telstra guy, and we were having a yarn while his technology tried to sort itself out.’
      • ‘So I mustered up enough good cheer to return their waves all the way there.By the time we arrived at Yulara, I was looking forward to a good yarn with some of these uniformly chirpy people.’
      • ‘In fact on his properties up around Cunnamulla and Bourke, he runs damaras, samms, dohnies, merinos and feral goats Meg Strang had a yarn with Ted about which breed is the best performer.’
      • ‘Whilst on the ride home I had a yarn with the driver.’
      • ‘You'd always go to the Yeps for a chat, for a yarn.’
      • ‘It encourages neighbours to lean across for a yarn.’
      • ‘This place is as bad as the base for news. Just as I wrote that, he came in and had a yarn.’
      • ‘So she came around and I got to work on the iPod as we had a bit of a yarn.’
      • ‘We got hold of the busy café owner, who quickly passed us on to the brewer, who was happy to have a yarn with us.’
      • ‘I got home, had a yarn with my Mum about the various things she had been doing as of late, that is to say she told me what she has been doing and I listened.’
      • ‘Except that other excuses intrude, like the heat or the rain or country dramas or rugby tournaments or lengthy yarns with people you don't need to have a yarn with in the first place.’
      • ‘Had a yarn to Lawerence Chaytor today.’
      • ‘In subsequent yarns with other friends and acquaintances, some of whom came to know him through working at Yuendumu, he also implied to them many more than 31, but I do not know of anyone who was given a specific estimate.’
      • ‘We had a bit of a yarn with her, about life, plans, etc.’
      • ‘In respect for their own independent research, yet to be published, I have not used any new evidence that Justin O'Brien and James Warden have located, but I thank them for friendly yarns.’
      • ‘I saw Seymour yesterday and had a yarn with him - Also Ken Allen.’
      • ‘But there's more to this attachment than a simple fondness for gossip or a good yarn.’
      • ‘About 2 days ago Lawerence Chaytor, Bunny Young, George Hampson, Mace and myself had a great yarn.’
      • ‘Buyers and other stud breeders travel from around the state and from interstate to inspect the rams on show, the quality of the wool produced and generally to have a bit of a yarn with colleagues.’
      discussion, talk, chat, gossip, tête-à-tête, heart-to-heart, head-to-head, exchange, dialogue, parley, consultation, conference
      View synonyms


[no object]informal
  • 1Tell a long or implausible story.

    ‘they were yarning about local legends and superstitions’
    • ‘Daily activities such as meeting, talking, sitting, yarning, playing, working, painting and cooking are also processes that imbue a place with meaning and culture associated with the user group.’
    • ‘Peace keepers who served in East Timor yarned with former prisoners of war, as Australian service men and women shared their experiences over a beer.’
    • ‘There was no television; we had radio, but our main entertainment was sitting around yarning, and telling, recalling stories of childhood and the bush and the Depression and the War and so on.’
    • ‘Her mother taught her how to fish, dig for worms, catch seaworms, and swim, and then at night her mother, uncles and aunts would gather all the children around the campfire for a night of yarning.’
    • ‘For reasons I now do not recall, he yarned about the ‘early days, bad old days‘.’
    • ‘It is a fitting way to start an evening around the campfire yarning about Rex's exploits and adventures - intrepid journeys of exploration by the bushman and naturalist many call the founder of Australia's outback safari industry.’
    1. 1.1Australian, NZ Chat; talk.
      ‘he sat yarning to his mother’
      • ‘The interview has come to a close yet Clarke seems quite content to yarn.’
      • ‘They are run as in NZ & the girl who attended us started yarning to us and we kept it up.’
      • ‘We yarned for a few minutes, during which time Mick's swingers were going up and down like yoyo's from line bites.’
      • ‘It was generally believed, too, when I first yarned to people, that some of those who had fled had perished of exhaustion and thirst.’
      • ‘At tea-time and again the following morning, we're visited by members of the community, yarning with old ladies like Sheila, Amy and community leader Jessie and larking about in the river with a bevvy of energetic youngsters.’
      • ‘Eventually all settled down to a well-cooked meal, then yarning and laughter.’
      • ‘He stood quietly near one of the old Coolibah trees in the Pioneers portion of ‘the Hill ‘, a legend and a gentleman, yarning to his many old friends and extended family members.’’
      • ‘One morning, when one of the officers and several passengers were chatting and yarning in my cabin, the officer said to me: ‘I say, Major, you will be glad to hear that, on Sunday morning, we shall have service in the saloon…’
      • ‘Then if I have a day off sick I see them sitting on the front porch yarning, having a beer - or two or three - and later on playing cricket with the kids in the back yard.’
      • ‘Some chums and I drank and yarned last night away in Noho at the Crown & Sceptre: cheers for a fun evening boys and girls.’
      • ‘And he was sitting there and he said Hello, and then we kind of got to yarning about what he did, and I said, ‘Oh well, my father was in the war,’ and he said, ‘What was his name?’’
      • ‘She put in quite a reasonable quantity of time yarning with Norm Purves' good lady, and I had a beer or two with old Norm and some of the other chappies there.’
      • ‘And that's precisely the reason old people love to yarn and natter with youngsters.’
      • ‘It rained off and on all day, and we were quite content to yarn with Jean Craigie, Ernie Smith, Stan Ombler and the rest of the hut occupants.’
      • ‘It was retrobate old Nugget Hunter (not to be confused with Nugget Morton) yarning with me in 1970.’
      • ‘Why not produce an anthology of Aussie sonnets for the sheer pleasure of yarning amongst ourselves, without bothering to care who else may or may not be listening?’


Old English gearn; of Germanic origin, related to Dutch garen.