(1) Partly from Middle English yanen ‘to yawn’, from Old English ġānian, from Proto-Germanic *ganōnan (cf. North Frisian jåne, German gähnen, Swedish dialect gana ‘to gape, gawk’), denominative of *ganaz (cf. Swedish gan ‘gullet, maw’);
(2) and partly from Middle English yenen, yonen ‘to yawn’, from Old English ġinian, ġionian, frequentative of ġīnan, from Proto-Germanic *gīnanan (compare Norwegian gina ‘to gape’), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰih₁-neh₂ (compare Russian зинуть (zínutʹ), Greek χαίνω (chaínō));
(3) both from *ǵʰeh₂u- ‘to yawn, gape’ (compare Dutch geeuwen, Latin hiō, Tocharian A śew, Tocharian B kāyā, Lithuanian žióti, Russian зиять (zijátʹ), Sanskrit vijihite).
yawn (third-person singular simple present yawns, present participle yawning, simple past and past participle yawned)
- To open the mouth widely and take a long, rather deep breath, often because one is tired and sometimes accompanied by pandiculation.
- I could see my students yawning, so I knew the lesson was boring.
- To present an opening that appears able to swallow one up, literally or metaphorically:
- The canyon yawns as it has done for millions of years, and we stand looking, dumbstruck.
- Death yawned before us, and I hit the brakes.
open the mouth and take a deep breath
to present a wide opening
yawn (plural yawns)
- The action of yawning; opening the mouth widely and taking a long, rather deep breath, often because one is tired.
- A particularly boring event.
- The slideshow we sat through was such a yawn, I was so glad when it finally finished.
Derived terms