Share this entry

Share this page


Syllabification: yarn
Pronunciation: /yärn

Definition of yarn in English:


1Spun thread used for knitting, weaving, or sewing.
Example sentences
  • There was a guy in there showing a girl how to spin yarn using a spindle.
  • Typically, American stocking factories spun their own wool into yarn or thread.
  • Older women continue to weave long, colorful sashes with red wool yarn on a white cotton background.
thread, cotton, wool, fiber, filament;
2 informal A long or rambling story, especially one that is implausible.
Example sentences
  • The open fire is a focal point around which many yarns are spun and stories told.
  • The detective yarn is one of the most formally defined modes of storytelling.
  • It's a treat and guaranteed to having you curling up in laughter at some of the yarns and stories from times past.
story, tale, anecdote, saga, narrative
informal tall tale, tall story, fish story, cock-and-bull story, shaggy-dog story, spiel


[no object] informal Back to top  
Tell a long or implausible story: they were yarning about local legends and superstitions
More example sentences
  • Her mother taught her how to fish, dig for worms, catch seaworms, and swim, and then at night her mother, uncles and aunts would gather all the children around the campfire for a night of yarning.
  • Daily activities such as meeting, talking, sitting, yarning, playing, working, painting and cooking are also processes that imbue a place with meaning and culture associated with the user group.
  • There was no television; we had radio, but our main entertainment was sitting around yarning, and telling, recalling stories of childhood and the bush and the Depression and the War and so on.


Old English gearn, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch garen.


spin a yarn

see spin.

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day coxcomb
Pronunciation: ˈkäksˌkōm
a vain and conceited man; a dandy