Partly from Middle English yanen, yonen, yenen (“to yawn”), from Old English ġinian (“to yawn, gape”), from Proto-Germanic *ginōną (“to yawn”); and partly from Middle English gonen (“to gape, yawn”), from Old English gānian (“to yawn, gape”), from Proto-Germanic *gainōną (“to yawn, gape”); both from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰi-, *ǵʰeyh₁- (“to yawn, gape”). Cognate with North Frisian jåne (“to yawn”), Saterland Frisian jaanje, joanje (“to yawn”), Middle Dutch genen, ghenen (“to yawn”), German Low German jahnen (“to yawn”), German gähnen (“to yawn, gape”), dialectal Swedish gana (“to gape, gawk”), dialectal Norwegian gina (“to gape”).
- (UK) enPR: yôn, IPA(key): /jɔːn/
- Rhymes: -ɔːn
- (US) enPR: yôn, IPA(key): /jɔn/
- (cot–caught merger) enPR: yän, IPA(key): /jɑn/
Audio (US, California) (file)
- Homophone: yon (with cot-caught merger)
- (intransitive) To open the mouth widely and take a long, rather deep breath, often because one is tired or bored, and sometimes accompanied by pandiculation.
- I could see my students yawning, so I knew the lesson was boring them.
- 1719, Daniel Defoe, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, London: W. Taylor, p. ,
- […] I found my self towards Evening, first empty and sickish at my Stomach, and nearer Night mightily enclin’d to yawning and sleepy […]
- c. 1773, John Trumbull, The Progress of Dulness, Exeter, New Hampshire: Henry Ranlet, 1794, Part 1, p. 19,
- And while above he spends his breath,
- The yawning audience nod beneath.
- To say while yawning.
- To present a wide opening; gape.
- 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.
- c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii]:
- ’Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.
- 1667, John Milton, “Book 6”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: […] [Samuel Simmons], […], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 874-875:
- […] Hell at last
Yawning receavd them whole, and on them clos’d,
- (obsolete) To open the mouth, or to gape, through surprise or bewilderment.
- c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene 2]:
- […] O heavy hour!
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe
Should yawn at alteration.
- 1606, Thomas Dekker, Nevves from hell brought by the Diuells carrier, London: W. Ferebrand, 
- […] Hell being vnder euerie one of their Stages, the Players (if they had owed him a spight) might with a false Trappe doore haue slipt him downe, and there kept him, as a laughing stocke to al their yawning Spectators.
- (obsolete) To be eager; to desire to swallow anything; to express desire by yawning.
- to yawn for fat livings
- 1824, Walter Savage Landor, “Milton and Andrew Marvel”, in Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, volume I, London: […] Taylor and Hessey, […], OCLC 35810401, page 6:
- Fly not, as thou wert wont, to his embrace,
Lest, after one long yawning gaze, he swear
Thou art the best good fellow in the world,
But he had quite forgotten thee, by Jove!
yawn (plural yawns)
- The action of yawning; opening the mouth widely and taking a long, rather deep breath, often because one is tired or bored.
- 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], chapter 11, in Pride and Prejudice, volume (please specify |volume=I to III), London: […] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton […], OCLC 38659585:
- At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, “How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! […] ”
- 1902, Joseph Conrad, Typhoon, Chapter 6,
- But Mrs. MacWhirr, in the drawing-room […] , stifled a yawn—perhaps out of self-respect—for she was alone.
- (colloquial) A particularly boring event.
- The slideshow we sat through was such a yawn. I was glad when it finished.