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See also: Yawn


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A kitten yawning.


Partly from Middle English yanen, yonen, yenen (to yawn), from Old English ġinian, ġeonian (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).

Compare also Old Church Slavonic зѣѭ (zějǫ) (Russian зи́нуть (zínutʹ), зия́ть (zijátʹ)), Greek χαίνω (khaínō)), Latin hiō, Tocharian A śew, Tocharian B kāyā, Lithuanian žioti, Russian, Sanskrit जेह् (jeh)



yawn (third-person singular simple present yawns, present participle yawning, simple past and past participle yawned)

  1. 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 them.
    • Trumbull
      And while above he spends his breath, / The yawning audience nod beneath.
  2. To present a wide opening.
    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.
    • Shakespeare
      'Tis now the very witching time of night, / When churchyards yawn.
  3. To open the mouth, or to gape, through surprise or bewilderment.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  4. To be eager; to desire to swallow anything; to express desire by yawning.
    to yawn for fat livings
    • Landor
      one long, yawning gaze



yawn (plural yawns)

  1. The action of yawning; opening the mouth widely and taking a long, rather deep breath, often because one is tired.
  2. A particularly boring event.
    The slideshow we sat through was such a yawn. I was glad when it finished.

Derived terms[edit]