Definition of yawn in English:



  • 1no object Involuntarily open one's mouth wide and inhale deeply due to tiredness or boredom.

    ‘he began yawning and looking at his watch’
    • ‘He didn't look like he smiled that often, but when he opened his mouth to yawn; a set of pearly white teeth were exposed.’
    • ‘I yawned and opened the door before my roommate knocked it down.’
    • ‘Demetre yawned and opened his teary eyes, looking around and spotting Britney still asleep in his arms.’
    • ‘I opened my mouth to yawn, but before I knew it, I was throwing up on the floor.’
    • ‘Harrieth woke up and rubbed the sleep dust from her eyes, she yawned deeply, throwing her arms out to the side.’
    • ‘Seek yawned, stretching his mouth to an unusually large size and giving a dramatic sigh.’
    • ‘Once the fire was stable, he returned to his spot, yawned deeply, and went to sleep.’
    • ‘He yawned and inhaled the dusty, musty air that he had become so familiar with over the last five years.’
    • ‘Tinara opened her mouth to reply, but she suddenly put a hand to her mouth and yawned.’
    • ‘I blinked my eyes blearily and opened my mouth to yawn, I felt thick and slow.’
    • ‘I actually have a bit more to share if you haven't already started to yawn in boredom…’
    • ‘As it hits the back of your mouth or throat try yawning, as this action will open up your throat.’
    • ‘Stretching forth her sleepy limbs she yawns in tiredness.’
    • ‘Alexis felt a compelling need to yawn but as she opened her mouth the arm tightened.’
    • ‘Kurai says ‘I need a drink’ and then he yawns, covering his mouth with one hand.’
    • ‘The Chartreux cat stared belligerently at Sam, yawned and began licking a black paw.’
    • ‘He yawns, covering his mouth, and hears the sound of the television playing somewhere in the house.’
    • ‘He yawned, Jok opened his mouth to reply but closed it quickly, he knew he was going to shout and he didn't want Kassa to wake up.’
    • ‘When young people see us, they either start yawning involuntarily or inhale our old people's smell and start retching.’
    • ‘Come ten o'clock in the evening we've generally begun to stretch and yawn, and by ten thirty the house is quiet except for gentle snoring.’
    gaping, wide open, wide, cavernous, deep
    View synonyms
  • 2usually as adjective yawningBe wide open.

    ‘a yawning chasm’
    • ‘An image of two yawning voids behind amber glass flashed through her mind.’
    • ‘Getting out to inspect, we discovered a yawning chasm in the middle of the bridge, with two girders going across it.’
    • ‘Does one plug on, rounding out characters, filling in the yawning chasms in the plot?’
    • ‘It matters because it tells us of the yawning chasm between Labour's dreams and what happens when it tries to implement a policy.’
    • ‘At last we reach the summit, where Alex shrinks back from the yawning chasm.’
    • ‘Which just goes to show the difference - nay, the yawning chasm!’
    • ‘Rather, cultivate an aura of benign but almost yawning familiarity (but don't snub her either).’
    • ‘The gap between rich and poor has not only widened over the past twenty years it has become a yawning chasm in some instances.’
    • ‘Falling stock markets have caused yawning gaps to appear between the assets and liabilities of final salary pension schemes.’
    • ‘Access is through two yawning front doors, or via rear - seat sliding doors.’
    • ‘The void between rich and poor is now a yawning chasm and home ownership is but a dream for most young couples.’
    • ‘Wordlessly they walked the last few yards to the yawning chasm in the ground, their little fingers linked once more.’
    • ‘Every bend takes you higher while your breath is suspended looking at the yawning chasm below.’
    • ‘To be confronted by yawning gaps in the stands will prove an embarrassment and one Africa will not live down.’
    • ‘When you've reached that great yawning chasm of despair and see no hope at all, then it's time to make that call.’
    • ‘She would have to pass through great agony to become a part of the great yawning nothingness.’
    • ‘Our once yawning current account deficit is now coming to resemble lockjaw.’
    • ‘We teetered on the edge of matchstick viaducts that bridged yawning chasms.’
    • ‘In fact, it really just underlines the now yawning chasm between the old and new world approaches to wine.’
    • ‘The game had been due to start at 3pm but, at that time, there were yawning expanses of empty seats in all four stands.’
    gaping, wide open, wide, cavernous, deep
    View synonyms


  • 1A reflex act of opening one's mouth wide and inhaling deeply due to tiredness or boredom.

    ‘he stretches and stifles a yawn’
    • ‘I like to watch late night TV (the only time good programs like 6 Feet Under, ER and arty documentaries are on) and judge my bedtime by the force of gravity and the frequency of my yawns.’
    • ‘Rather than yawns of ‘we're bored’ the students engaged in lively debate with the Minister putting a myriad of questions to her ranging from the EU to the challenges of democracy.’
    • ‘She is the most perfect creation in the world, the most innocent bundle of coos and yawns and mumbles, and my heart breaks every time she focuses on my face.’
    • ‘And, since the good jokes don't come until the final third, a lot of yawns will have to be stifled.’
    • ‘It's been a couple of weeks since I bought this one, and I'm sure mentioning it will have most people stifling yawns, but that's just tough!’
    • ‘Sadie's heavy eyelids and swallow-the-earth yawns were entirely down to yet another interminable boredom barrage from Mr Brown.’
    • ‘But we are tired, and Mum mistakes our tiredness and stifled yawns for boredom.’
    • ‘The transnational morality set can barely stifle their yawns.’
    • ‘At parties, it was the last thing I wanted to mention, since it was certain to bring yawns and glares of boredom from beer-holding peers.’
    • ‘I don't even try to stifle my yawns while at the in-laws house.’
    • ‘The skeletal mouth opened in a wide yawn, a centipede unknown to Anthony sleeping delicately on his tongue.’
    • ‘It's a sad day when 90 minutes of football is all about stifling the yawns.’
    • ‘I tried not to show my boredom, but my yawns were coming quicker and quicker.’
    • ‘Evie said, she put her hand over her mouth to stifle a yawn.’
    • ‘Until now, I would have defied anyone to be able to make a documentary on the Somme that didn't reduce the audience to tears, but they managed not just to leave us with dry eyes, but to replace them with yawns.’
    • ‘Hugh Bradley was in the pool recently and said the two boys had yawns as wide as a hippopotamus' mouth.’
    • ‘It was an era when politics had passion and party political conventions could be dramatic, world-changing events rather than media-manipulated yawns.’
    • ‘I spent this period of instruction trying to stifle yawns and resisting saying how old-hat this all seemed.’
    • ‘Conner rose and stretched, his lupine muzzle gaping wide in a colossal yawn, the muscles rippling across his broad back.’
    • ‘It's striking that the fecklessness of the United Nations and the treachery of the French draw so many yawns from establishment commentators and politicians.’
    1. 1.1informal in singular A thing that is considered boring or tedious.
      ‘the film is just one big yawn’
      • ‘If like the rest of us you feel this year's Big Brother is a bit * yawn * compared to other years then join with us to keep the rebellious Dubliner in the house.’
      • ‘I heard from a relative of someone serving in Fallujah, who said that all the bases around there take mortar fire so frequently that it has become a big yawn for the troops.’
      • ‘If you are part of the Big Five, XYZ is a just a big yawn.’
      • ‘Technologically speaking, the last 100 years of handgun development have been one big yawn.’
      • ‘Anyway, I ended up watching an amateur boxing match, big yawn.’
      • ‘It happened 15 years ago and it's been either a big yawn or a big laugh ever since.’
      • ‘The horses' reaction to all this was on the order of a yawn - no big deal.’
      • ‘But the comedy is ghastly dull, the choreography fussy and boring - a yawn a minute, I thought sourly.’
      • ‘Is Channel 4's new sleep deprivation game show a danger to health or just a big yawn?’
      • ‘Put frankly, the whole thing was one big yawn which was mitigated only by the fact that it was a beautiful sunny day.’
      • ‘What Ellen MacArthur did is, to my mind, one big yawn.’
      • ‘Whatever it is I find it a relief to know you can be in your 40's and not turn into a boring middleaged yawn.’
      • ‘So pausing only to wonder at this weird form of celebrity inflation, in which the words rise and interest disappears with a popping yawn, here is a final thought.’
      • ‘I hope I'm wrong, but right now the whole issue is just one big yawn.’
      • ‘It's not a big yawn or an exclusive affair, as most people might think.’
      • ‘The Punakawan parts, which had amusing dialog and action, saved the performance from turning into a big yawn.’
      • ‘People will be looking for the sums and despite the eighty or so people last night, many think that the whole thing is a big yawn.’
      • ‘The sheer Hip-ness of Evolution can feel like a bit of a yawn given the little risk of alienating such a loyal audience by pushing the envelope a touch.’
      • ‘Because the dirty little secret is that most Americans still greet the MLS with a big yawn.’
      • ‘How are you going to get big voter turnout when everybody seems to think these elections are a big yawn?’


Old English geonian, of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin hiare and Greek khainein. Current noun senses date from the early 18th century.