- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /jɜːn/
- (General American) enPR: yûrn, IPA(key): /jɝn/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Homophone: yern
- Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)n
The verb is derived from Middle English yernen, yern (“to express or feel desire; to desire, long or wish for; to lust after; to ask or demand for”) [and other forms], from Old English ġeornan (“to desire, yearn; to beg”) [and other forms], from Proto-West Germanic *girnijan (“to be eager for, desire”), from Proto-Germanic *girnijaną (“to desire, want”), from *gernaz (“eager, willing”) (from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰer- (“to yearn for”)) + *-janą (suffix forming factitive verbs from adjectives).
- (intransitive, also figuratively) To have a strong desire for something or to do something; to long for or to do something.
- All I yearn for is a simple life.
- 1711 August 24 (Gregorian calendar), [Joseph Addison; Richard Steele et al.], “MONDAY, August 13, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 142; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, […], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page 243:
- You are now before my eyes, my eyes that are ready to flow with tenderness, but cannot give relief to my gushing heart, that dictates what I am now saying, and yearns to tell you all its achings.
- 1840 April – 1841 November, Charles Dickens, “Chapter the Thirty-second”, in The Old Curiosity Shop. A Tale. […], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, […], published 1841, →OCLC, page 274:
- By morning's cheerful glow, but oftener still by evening's gentle light, the child, with a respect for the short and happy intercourse of these two sisters which forbade her to approach and say a thankful word, although she yearned to do so, followed them at a distance in their walks and rambles, […]
- 1913–1960 (writing and revisions), E[dward] M[organ] Forster, chapter 40, in Maurice, London: Penguin Books, published 1971 (1987 printing), →ISBN, page 181:
- But all that night his body yearned for Alec's, despite him. He called it lustful, a word easily uttered, and opposed it to his work, his family, his friends, his position in society. […] But his body would not be convinced.
- (intransitive) Of music, words, etc.: to express strong desire or longing.
- (intransitive, dated) To have strong feelings of affection, love, sympathy, etc., toward someone.
- 1711 August 1 (Gregorian calendar), [Joseph Addison; Richard Steele et al.], “SATURDAY, July 21, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 123; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, […], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page 158:
- I have left your mother in the next room. Her heart yearns towards you.
- 1873, Charles Reade, chapter XII, in A Simpleton: A Story of the Day […], volume II, London: Chapman and Hall, […], →OCLC, pages 99–100:
- Oh, it was a pretty sight to see this modest young creature, little more than a child herself, anticipating maternity, but blushing every now and then, and looking askant at her lord and master. How his very bowels yearned over her!
- 1883 June, Ralph Iron [pseudonym; Olive Schreiner], “Tant’ Sannie Holds an Upsitting, and Gregory Writes a Letter”, in The Story of an African Farm, 2nd edition, New York, N.Y.: H. M. Caldwell Company, →OCLC, part II, page 248:
- But supper had cheered Tant' Sannie, who found it impossible longer to maintain that decorous silence, and whose heart yearned over the youth.
- (intransitive, obsolete) To be distressed or pained; to grieve; to mourn.
- 1759, [Laurence Sterne], chapter XVII, in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, 2nd (1st London) edition, volume II, London: […] R[obert] and J[ames] Dodsley […], published 1760, →OCLC, page 144:
- My father’s and my uncle Toby’s hearts yearn’d with ſympathy for the poor fellow’s diſtreſs,— […]
- (transitive) Often followed by out: to perform (music) which conveys or say (words) which express strong desire or longing.
- (transitive, archaic or poetic) To have a strong desire or longing (for something or to do something).
- Synonym: (obsolete) earn
- (transitive, obsolete) To cause (someone) to have strong feelings of affection, love, sympathy, etc.; also, to grieve or pain (someone).
- Synonym: (obsolete) earn
- c. 1597 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merry Wiues of Windsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene v], page 52, column 2:
- Well, ſhe laments Sir for it, that it would yern your heart to see it: […]
- 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene iii], page 86, column 2:
- It yernes me not, if men my Garments weare; / Nor care I who doth feed vpon my coſt: / Such outward things dwell not in my deſires. / But if it be a ſinne to couet Honor, / I am the moſt offending Soule aliue.
- 1834 June 25, Leigh Hunt, “A Pinch of Snuff (Concluded.)”, in Leigh Hunt’s London Journal, volume I, number 13, London: Charles Knight, […]; and Henry Hooper, […], →OCLC, page 98, column 1:
- Wants to sneeze and cannot do it! / Now it yearns me, thrills me, stings me, / Now with rapturous torment wrings me, / Now says “Sneeze, you fool; get through it.”
|present tense||past tense|
|1st-person singular||yearn||yearned, yearnt (rare)|
|2nd-person singular||yearn, yearnest†||yearned, yearnt (rare), yearnedst†|
|3rd-person singular||yearns, yearneth†||yearned, yearnt (rare)|
|subjunctive||yearn||yearned, yearnt (rare)|
|participles||yearning||yearned, yearnt (rare)|
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
yearn (plural yearns)
- A strong desire or longing; a yearning, a yen.
- 1917 August 12, “A YEARN FOR PEACE; Pan-Germanism Denounced”, in Sunday Times, Perth, WA, page 1:
- 1979, Norman Mailer, The Executioner's Song:
- Gibbs now said he wasn't going to pull any punches with Gary when he knew how jealous a man could get, so he also wanted to tell him that Phil Hansen was reputed to have a yearn for attractive ladies.
- 2010, Frank Buchmann-Moller, Someone to Watch Over Me: The Life and Music of Ben Webster, University of Michigan Press, →ISBN, page 57:
- "After he had made a record date with us in 1935, I always had a yearn for Ben," he said years later.
- 2014 February 13, AFP, “Why internet adultery numbers are soaring”, in New Zealand Herald:
- "My guess, however, is that it has because there are many people who have a yearn for sex outside their relationship but wouldn't have the slightest idea about how to do it or do it safely," Prof Schwartz added.
- a variant of earn (“to curdle, as milk”) (though this word is attested later), from Middle English erne, ernen (“to coagulate, congeal”) (chiefly South Midlands) [and other forms], a metathetic variant of rennen (“to run; to coagulate, congeal”), from Old English rinnen (“to run”) (with the variants iernan, irnan) and Old Norse rinna (“to move quickly, run; of liquid: to flow, run; to melt”), both ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₃er- (“to move, stir; to rise, spring”); or
- a back-formation from yearning (“(Scotland, archaic) rennet; calf (or other animal’s) stomach used to make rennet”).
- (Northern England, Scotland, intransitive)
- (Northern England, Scotland, transitive)
- To curdle (milk), especially in the cheesemaking process.
- To make (cheese) from curdled milk.
- 1818 July 25, Jedadiah Cleishbotham [pseudonym; Walter Scott], chapter II, in Tales of My Landlord, Second Series, […] (The Heart of Mid-Lothian), volume IV, Edinburgh: […] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Company, →OCLC, page 24:
- Also his Honour the Duke will accept ane of our Dunlop cheeses, and it sall be my faut if a better was ever yearned in Lowden.
- ^ “yernen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- ^ Compare “yearn, v.1”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021; “yearn, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
- ^ “yearn, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2018.
- ^ “yearn, v.2”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020.
- ^ “rennen, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.