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See also: Yawn



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A kitten yawning.


Partly from Middle English yanen (to yawn), from Old English ġānian, from Proto-Germanic *ganōną (compare North Frisian jåne, Saterland Frisian jaanje, Dutch geeuwen, German gähnen, dialectal Swedish gana (to gape, gawk)), denominative of *ganaz (compare Swedish gan (gullet, maw)); and partly from Middle English yenen, yonen (to yawn), from Old English ġinian, ġionian, frequentative of ġīnan, from Proto-Germanic *gīnaną (compare Norwegian gina (to gape)), all from the Germanic root *gīn-.

The Germanic forms are from a Proto-Indo-European root *ǵʰei- or *ǵʰeh₂-;[1] compare 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); also with -u- extension (*ǵʰ(e)h₂u-)[2] in English gum (Germanic *gōmô), Greek χάος (kháos).



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 termsEdit



  1. ^ Pokorny (1959:419-422): "g̑hē- : ghə-, and g̑hēi- 'to gape, yawn'"
  2. ^ Pokorny (1959:449): "g̑hēu- : g̑hō(u)- : g̑həu- 'to gape, yawn'"