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From Middle English yernful, from Old English ġiernful (desirous, eager, zealous, diligent, anxious), equivalent to yearn +‎ -ful.


yearnful (comparative more yearnful, superlative most yearnful)

  1. Filled with yearning; desirous; mournful; distressing.
    • 1570, Richard Edwards, “Damon and Pithias”, in A select collection of old English plays, Volume 4, page 43:
      So now lend me thy yearnful tunes to utter my sorrow.
    • 1886, Jerome K. Jerome, Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow[1]:
      Ah! they were grand days, those deep, full days, when our coming life, like an unseen organ, pealed strange, yearnful music in our ears, and our young blood cried out like a war-horse for the battle.
    • 1919, Albert Payson Terhune, “The Strike”, in O Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1919[2]:
      I am yearnful to know who was the unhappy person the wicked general threatened.

Usage notes[edit]

  • This term was once widely and disapprovingly attributed to the poet John Keats.
    • 1900, Rupert Hughes, Contemporary American Composers[3]:
      It abounded in emotion, and was--to use the impossible word Keats coined--"yearnful."
    • **, 1902, Leon Mead[Word-coinage], page 19:
      Men of genius have been guilty of some queer word-coinages. Keats coined the impossible word yearnful; but this was not his gravest offense.
    • 1903, Rupert Hughes, The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 1[4]:
      This is the last of these letters to which one could apply so fitly the barbarous word "yearnful," once coined by Keats.

Derived terms[edit]