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[yaw-ning] /ˈyɔ nɪŋ/
being or standing wide open; gaping:
the yawning mouth of a cave.
indicating by yawns one's weariness or indifference:
The lecturer was oblivious to his yawning audience.
Origin of yawning
before 900; Middle English; Old English geniendum. See yawn, -ing2
Related forms
yawningly, adverb


[yawn] /yɔn/
verb (used without object)
to open the mouth somewhat involuntarily with a prolonged, deep inhalation and sighing or heavy exhalation, as from drowsiness or boredom.
to open wide like a mouth.
to extend or stretch wide, as an open and deep space.
verb (used with object)
to say with a yawn.
Archaic. to open wide, or lay open, as if by yawning.
an act or instance of yawning.
an opening; open space; chasm.
Also, yawner. Informal. something so boring as to make one yawn:
Critics say the new fashions are one big yawn.
before 900; Middle English yanen, yonen (v.), alteration of yenen, Old English ge(o)nian; akin to Old English gānian, ginan, Old Norse gīna, G gähnen, Latin hiāre (see hiatus), Greek chaínein to gape (see chasm)
Can be confused
yawn, yon.
1–3. gape. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for yawning
  • At the same time, science opened up a yawning chasm of the unknown inside ordinary objects.
  • You'll witness sweeping moments of beauty, of a blue sky yawning wide above a grand city or mountain.
  • The yawning gap between intended outcomes and eventual use value is one common to all research, regardless of discipline.
  • The yawning seam and corroded bolt conceal their defects from the mariner until the storm calls all hands to the pumps.
  • In the salon, my fellow-diners were yawning rather than gasping or sobbing.
  • The problem is that there's a yawning gap between traditional pharmaceutical companies and genomics research.
  • Through the building crawled the scrubwomen, yawning, their old shoes slapping.
  • If there was a sense of awe in the presence of the gods, there was no sense of moral separation, no yawning chasm of unworthiness.
  • As it turns out, if one tortoise is yawning, its buddies won't join in.
  • Not even if you show them movies of yawning tortoises.
British Dictionary definitions for yawning


(intransitive) to open the mouth wide and take in air deeply, often as in involuntary reaction to tiredness, sleepiness, or boredom
(transitive) to express or utter while yawning
(intransitive) to be open wide as if threatening to engulf (someone or something): the mine shaft yawned below
the act or an instance of yawning
Derived Forms
yawner, noun
yawning, adjective
yawningly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English gionian; related to Old Saxon ginōn, Old High German ginēn to yawn, Old Norse gjā gap
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for yawning



c.1300, yenen, yonen, from Old English ginian, gionian "open the mouth wide, gape," from Proto-Germanic *gin- (cf. Old Norse gina "to yawn," Dutch geeuwen, Old High German ginen, German gähnen "to yawn"), from PIE *ghai- "to yawn, gape" (cf. Old Church Slavonic zijajo "to gape," Lithuanian zioju, Czech zivati "to yawn," Greek khainein, Latin hiare "to yawn, gape," Sanskrit vijihite "to gape, be ajar"). Related: Yawned; yawning.


"act of yawning," 1690s, from yawn (v.). Meaning "boring thing" is attested from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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yawning in Medicine

yawn (yôn)
v. yawned, yawn·ing, yawns
To open the mouth wide with a deep inhalation, usually involuntarily from drowsiness, fatigue, or boredom. n.
The act of yawning.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for yawning



: The kid was yarfing at me, I mean, Pete was whining and complaining about the shift. Kid complained a lot, ma'am (1990s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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