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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English yern (willing, eager), from Old English ġeorn (eager), from Proto-Germanic *gernaz. Cognate with Danish gerne (gladly), Dutch gaarne (with pleasure, gladly), German gern (willingly, gladly), Icelandic gjarn (willing, keen, eager), Icelandic gjarna (willingly, readily, gladdly), Swedish gärna (willingly, gladly). See also yearnful and yearnfully.




  1. (obsolete) Willing, eager, covetous, swift, nimble, earnest.
    He was yern to go, for nought could he be stayed.
    • Chaucer
      But of her song, it was as loud and yern / As any swallow sitting on a bern.



  1. (obsolete) eagerly, heartily, gladly, willingly, earnestly.
    I am not afraid of death, and when my time comes I'll go yern.
    • A Royal Historie of the Excellent Knight Generides
      Who was so hardie and so stern? Tel me now, I pray you yern
    • The Buke of the Sevyne Sagis (a1500)
      All the people cried yernː God Master, now defend thy bairn.
    • Dunbar (1508)
      He trowis that ȝoung folk I ȝern ȝeild.
    • Gavin Douglas (1513)
      The black swarm (of ants) over the fields walks yern.
Usage notes[edit]

For the adverb, the form yearnly can also be found, but is much rarer.


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for yern in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


yern (third-person singular simple present yerns, present participle yerning, simple past and past participle yerned)

  1. Obsolete form of yearn.