9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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.
Origin of 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 yawn
  • Then he gave a prolonged yawn, opening his mouth as wide as possible.
  • To the modern mind, beauty has always been a bit of a yawn, even if beautiful people continue to attract our stares.
  • Although it may appear causal, hippos often yawn in order to impose a visual threat and warning to potential enemies or attackers.
  • For every reviewer who applauds, there is one who stifles a yawn.
  • She relaxed and stretched in a yawn, hitting a rafter of cork.
  • It will only get worse as state and city deficits yawn without government stimulus money to plug the hole.
  • It was the sensation of a moment: the white-bound head, the monstrous goggle eyes, and this huge yawn below it.
  • The girlfriends yawn in the background, climbing up the stairs.
  • And there's a bonus: they also don't fall out when you yawn.
  • Sent behind bars with a yawn and a sneer conviction.
British Dictionary definitions for yawn


(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 yawn

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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yawn 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 yawn



: 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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