Yawning is what happens when you reflexively open your mouth wide, inhale, and exhale again. Most yawning is caused by sleepiness or extreme boredom.

Use the word yawning for actual yawning — or to mean "wide open." A yawning chasm in the ground is a huge, wide gap, and a yawning hole in a movie's plot is the obvious space where some details are missing, making the resulting story seem unlikely and unbelievable. A yawning child, on the other hand, is probably just ready for her nap.

Definitions of yawning
  1. noun
    an involuntary intake of breath through a wide open mouth; usually triggered by fatigue or boredom
    “the yawning in the audience told him it was time to stop”
    synonyms: oscitance, oscitancy, yawn
    see moresee less
    yawning and stretching (as when first waking up)
    type of:
    inborn reflex, innate reflex, instinctive reflex, physiological reaction, reflex, reflex action, reflex response, unconditioned reflex
    an automatic instinctive unlearned reaction to a stimulus
  2. adjective
    with the mouth wide open indicating boredom or sleepiness
    “a yawning congregation”
    open, opened
    used of mouth or eyes
  3. adjective
    showing lack of attention or boredom
    “the yawning congregation”
    synonyms: drowsy, oscitant
    showing a lack of attention or care
  4. adjective
    gaping open as if threatening to engulf someone or something
    “the yawning mine shaft”
    “a yawning abyss”
    affording free passage or access
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week