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c) a strong desire
a yen for = Lust auf etwas; ein Faible für jdn./etw. haben
a yen for: approximately 1,400,000 Google hits
Investors Show A YEN FOR the Dollar
(Wall Street Journal news headline)
A YEN FOR Chocolate
Our chocolates are created to make you happy. Packed with flavor, they make your eyes light up giving you small moments of happiness with each bite. Handmade using only fine chocolate and natural flavors, our filled chocolate collections are always made to order to ensure freshness.
Did you know?
- a strong desire or inclination
(American Heritage Dictionary)
Contrary to what some might believe, the word "yen" has nothing to do with the Japanese currency the "Yen." Many etymological sources suggest that it comes from the Cantonese "yin," which means opium, and "yan," which is a craving for something (opium for instance).
As the theory goes, with the influx of Chinese labourers into the U.S. during the 19th century, the slang term "yin-yan" entered English as "yen-yen," meaning "craving for opium."
The second "yen" was eventually dropped, leaving us with just "yen." This was also reinforced in English by "yearn."
English has several so-called "loan words" that we have borrowed from Chinese including:
- tycoon = An important person, usually someone in business. Tycoon stems from the Chinese tai (great) + kiun (lord), which the Japanese also adopted as a title for a shogun.
- chop chop = To hurry. Chop chop derives from the Cantonese "gap," to hurry.
- catsup = From the Cantonese ke jap. Most dictionaries actually list the source as a Chinese or Malay word meaning fish sauce. But this ignores the more direct route via the Cantonese word that sounds like ketchup and which actually means tomato sauce.
- kowtow = The act of kneeling and touching the forehead to the ground, or to show deference to someone. Kowtow is from "kou tou," Cantonese for "to knock heads."
craving, desire, hankering, hunger, itch, longing, lust, passion, thirst, urge, yearning
SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation
"I get a yen for Chinese food about once every week."
Today's Learning Tip (4):
Involve a colleague in your office in your English wordpower development - take a few minutes in the coffee or lunch break to test each other with the words you would especially like to remember.
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