Yen dictionary

Yen dictionary DEFAULT


This shows grade level based on the word's complexity.


This shows grade level based on the word's complexity.


an aluminum coin and monetary unit of Japan, equal to 100 sen or 1000 rin. Symbol: ¥; Abbreviation: Y

a former silver coin of Japan.



We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.

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Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?

Origin of yen


1870–75; <Japanese (y)en<Chinese yuányuan

Words nearby yen

Yeltsin, Boris, Yemen, Yemeni, Yemenite, yemmer, yen, Yenakiyevo, Yenan, Yen Hsi-shan, Yenisei, Yeniseian

Other definitions for yen (2 of 2)


a desire or craving: I had a yen for apple pie.

verb (used without object),yenned,yen·ning.

to have a craving; yearn.

Origin of yen


1905–10, Americanism; probably <dialectal Chinese (OAGuangdong) yáhn, akin to Chinese yǐn craving, addiction Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does yen mean?

Yen is a monetary unit of Japan similar to a dollar. It comes in the form of a coin that’s also called a yen.

The symbol for yen is ¥. Like a dollar, it can be divided into 100 parts called sen (though sen are not used in practice).

The plural of yen is yen.

Unrelatedly, yen is a slang term meaning a strong craving, desire, or yearning. It’s especially used in the phrase have a yen for. It can also be used as a verb meaning to crave or strongly desire.

Example: Ever since I came back from Italy, I’ve had a yen for fresh pasta.

Where does yen come from?

The first records of the word yen in English in reference to the currency come from the 1870s. It comes from the Chinese word yüan, meaning “circular object” or something like “dollar.” This word is also the basis of the Chinese unit of currency called the yuan. Yen coins are indeed circle-shaped, but yen banknotes come in varying denominations, just like the dollar.

The slang sense of the word yen was first used in the U.S. The first records of this use come from the early 1900s. It grew out of an earlier use referring to a craving for opium due to addiction, and in fact the word comes from a Chinese term that means “addiction” or “craving.”

If you have a yen for something, it means you have a craving for it. If you yen for something, you yearn for it. In both cases, the desire is strong, perhaps even passionate.

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What are some synonyms for yen?

What are some words that share a root or word element with yen

What are some words that often get used in discussing yen?

How is yen used in real life?

When it refers to currency, yen is used in all the same ways that dollar is (except that the plural of yen is yen). The slang sense of yen is not so commonly used.



Try using yen!

Is yen used correctly in this sentence? 

We dropped a lot of yen to quench our yen for authentic sushi.

Words related to yen

desire, urge, itch, hankering, longing, hunger, thirst, lust, yearning, passion, craving

How to use yen in a sentence

  • Negative real rates also make dollars less attractive to funds and folks with savings abroad, so they will increasingly invest in their home countries, or invest elsewhere in euro or yen securities, because our returns don’t even match inflation.

    The biggest economic threat facing the next administration: A weak dollar|Shawn Tully|October 11, 2020|Fortune

  • So even though it correctly touted trades such as going long equities, buying gold and betting on the yen against the dollar, it failed to benefit from its own foresight.

    The losses continue to pile up for hedge fund king Ray Dalio|Bernhard Warner|September 15, 2020|Fortune

  • Japan’s benchmark stock index sank 2% on Friday, while the yen strengthened, suggesting investors fear Abe’s exit doesn’t augur well for future growth.

    The legacy Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister, will leave after resigning|claychandler|August 28, 2020|Fortune

  • The amount of vanished bitcoins was 650,000 BTC (or 24.7 billion yen).

    Japanese Bitcoin Heist ‘an Inside Job,’ Not Hackers Alone|Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky, Jake Adelstein|January 1, 2015|DAILY BEAST

  • The cops say Kakehi gained several hundred million yen in inheritance from the deaths over the years.

    Beware of Japan’s “Black Widows”|Jake Adelstein|November 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • The ministry pours an estimated 700 million yen (6.8 million dollars) into whale research per year.

    Welcome to Japan’s Whale Week, Featuring Curried Whale Meat And Exploding Harpoons|Angela Erika Kubo, Jake Adelstein|June 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • This is a country where an estimated two trillion yen ($19.3 billion) are spent each year on the legal sex industry.

    Japan’s Desperate Housewives Opting for Adulterous Online Dating|Angela Erika Kubo, Jake Adelstein|April 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • Day tickets at Asahidake ( cost 4,000 yen.

    Olympians Dish on Their Favorite Spots to Ski & Snowboard|The Daily Beast|October 26, 2013|DAILY BEAST

  • Long-yen is somewhat smaller, but is also white and tender, though the taste is rather watery.

    A Woman's Journey Round the World|Ida Pfeiffer

  • The one I liked best was (even in Japanese things my fancy usually hits on the most expensive) just a thousand yen in price!

    A Journal from Japan|Marie Carmichael Stopes

  • I had rather a time getting old Hiraoka to rent it, but an auctioneer will do anything for enough yen.

    Winona of the Camp Fire|Margaret Widdemer

  • They plundered a sum of 200,000 yen from the Ono Company, and made a successful raid upon the prefectural offices of Kumamoto.


  • But for its passage, the deficit of the next fiscal year would have reached beyond forty-six millions of yen.


British Dictionary definitions for yen (1 of 2)


the standard monetary unit of Japan, (notionally) divided into 100 sen

Word Origin for yen

C19: from Japanese en, from Chinese yüan circular object, dollar

British Dictionary definitions for yen (2 of 2)


a passionate, ardent, or intense longing or desire

verbyens, yenningoryenned

(intr)to yearn

Word Origin for yen

perhaps from Chinese (Cantonese) yăn a craving, addiction

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with yen

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.


Main definitions of yen in English

: yen1yen2


See synonyms for yen

Translate yen into Spanish

nounplural noun yen

  • The basic monetary unit of Japan.

    ‘Whether it be for the lure of dollars or yen, or the start of a coaching career back in France remains to be seen.’

    • ‘The prices helpfully flash up on the board in pounds, dollars, Swiss francs, pesetas and yen.’
    • ‘The history is that after the Plaza Accord of 1985, the dollar declined against the yen.’
    • ‘The dollar is falling most sharply against the euro and the yen.’
    • ‘Thus, the President's chief economic advisor appeared to provide tacit approval to a weaker yen against the dollar.’
    • ‘The other point, of course, is that a weak yen (a stronger dollar) may be what this country chiefly needs.’
    • ‘Yet the Canadian dollar, Mexican peso, Taiwan dollar and Japanese yen all posted small gains against the greenback.’
    • ‘The dollar is strong because investors would rather hold dollars than yen or euros, not because the US Treasury says it should be.’
    • ‘The dollar weakened against sterling, the euro and the yen.’
    • ‘The Japanese, having borrowed the yen at zero interest rates, will then convert the yen into dollars, deutschemarks, and so forth.’
    • ‘And most particularly, can you name a price in dollars or yen or any other currency that you think the euro is actually going to go to before it rebounds?’
    • ‘The world has a new global currency - airline frequent flyer miles, which have a greater total value than dollars, euros, pounds or yen.’
    • ‘The Japanese data bucks up the yen against the dollar and the Euro specially, after the poor US data and also not much better data coming forth from Europe.’
    • ‘Japan froze yen soft loans and aid grants to the two countries for new projects, except for emergency and humanitarian aid and assistance for grassroots projects.’
    • ‘The recent weakness of the yen against the dollar to 110 might provide a further indication that unsterilised intervention is indeed occurring.’
    • ‘But they should base it on the dollar, not the yen.’
    • ‘A rise in the yen against the dollar reduces the value of exporters' profits when repatriated into Japanese currency, which contributes to deflation.’
    • ‘When the euro was exaggeratedly overvalued, the ECB didn't bother to print extra euros to buy dollars or yen to later sell them with a profit and to take some steam out of the euro rise.’
    • ‘What is critically needed is greater - not lesser - stability between the exchange rates of the key currencies - the euro, the dollar and the yen.’
    • ‘If Koizumi has enjoyed some economic success, say critics, it has been through a combination of good luck and what many believe has been an artificial weakness of the yen against the dollar.’
    • ‘The company blamed the strength of the yen against the dollar - a factor that hit Sony's profits hard too - and weak sales of its current console, the N64.’
    • ‘At the Group of Five Plaza Accords in September 1985 it was decided to strengthen the yen against the dollar, in an attempt to resolve the trade imbalances caused by the success of Japanese export industries.’
    • ‘I never have had that yen, to be a behind-the-scenes guy, a manipulator of players and the builder of a franchise so to speak.’
    • ‘MacDonald shares that yen for varied challenge.’





From Japanese en ‘round’.

Main definitions of yen in English

: yen1yen2


See synonyms for yen

Translate yen into Spanish


informal in singular
  • A longing or yearning.

    • ‘the continuing boom in the economy is allowing many consumers to indulge their yen for high-end toys’
    • ‘she always had a yen to be a writer’
    • ‘While growing up I watched my three brothers play baseball and always had a yen to join them.’
    • ‘If you have a yen for the ole west, you'll find what you are looking for in Morris starting next week.’
    • ‘Diesel, quite improbably, had always had a yen to act with the grande dame.’
    • ‘If you have a yen for something different, not on the menu, voila, it's yours.’
    • ‘Potentially a bit of a dumb topic this, but I still have a yen to start it.’
    • ‘Lately, I'm feeling a yen to do something different with my body.’
    • ‘A buried yen to ski competitively came back in the early seventies, when the idea of a professional racing circuit in the States took hold.’
    • ‘Some years ago I had a yen to read some science fiction.’
    • ‘Scots producers with a yen to make TV shows about footballers should phone Channel 4's Julian Bellamy.’
    • ‘In the black heart of winter, 1959, Buddy Holly journeyed there with a miserable cold and a yen for home; his brief stay cured both.’
    • ‘He's got a three-week Greyhound Discovery Pass, a map of mom-and-pop ski hills, and a yen to see the west from the vantage of a pungent window seat.’
    • ‘His yen for a sport, in which speeds of 110 miles per hour can be reached, was fuelled when he was taken to Silverstone by his dad to watch friend Moore in karting action.’
    • ‘And to have had an absolute yen to achieve your goal.’
    • ‘Sammy (loosely based on Alexander Pantages) has a yen for Kitty, who actually gives us a truncated version of her famous ribbon dance.’
    • ‘And while homesickness and a yen to have the support of being the home team in a rough business lured the brothers back, they've set their sights on more travel eventually.’
    • ‘If you feel a desperate yen to join them no-one will stop you, it will scare the living daylights out of you, but what's more important, once back on deck, you will feel like a million dollars.’
    • ‘You can make an appointment by calling 931-3385, or just stop in if you happen to be passing by and feel a yen to yak.’
    • ‘But post Butler we know, not only that they can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat.’

    hankering, yearning, longing, craving, urge, desire, want, wish, hunger, thirst, lust, appetite, greed, ache, burning, eagerness, fervour

    View synonyms




intransitive verbintransitive verb yens, intransitive verb yenning, intransitive verb yenned

[no object] informal
  • Feel a longing or yearning.

    • ‘it's no use yenning for the old simplicities’
    • ‘And I should have linked it immediately to the Hippie's sudden yenning for suburban clothing.’





Late 19th century (in the sense ‘craving for a drug’): probably from Chinese yǎn ‘craving’, possibly reinforced by yān ‘opium’.

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Meaning of yen in English

By the mid-1990s the losses had grown to tens of billions of yen, threatening the financial health of the firm.

From Reuters

Her presence helped generate about 1.1 billion yen.


It plans to take 10 years to sell those shares at a pace of around 300 billion yen annually.


But the 1 trillion yen ($9.8 billion) reactor has hardly operated since an accident in 1995, months after it went online.

From Chicago Daily Herald

It also lowered its benchmark official discount rate to a record low as the economy deteriorated and the yen rose.

From Bloomberg

The greenback was slightly lower against a basket of currencies, with the euro near $1.1241 and the yen around 102.21.


But the dollar has fallen nearly 10 percent against the yen this year.


It's now at multiyear highs against the euro and yen.


Economists said officials will likely keep longer-term credit programs at a total of 35 trillion yen.

From Bloomberg

The yen traded against the dollar today at 96.85 compared with 96.34 late yesterday.

From Bloomberg

The yen typically gains when investors avoid risk because of the country's current-account surplus and deflation.

From Bloomberg

The dollar rose against the yen initially, fetching as much as 123.58 yen, compared with around 122.40 yen before the decision.


The euro traded around $1.073 and the yen near 113.4 yen against the greenback.


These examples are from corpora and from sources on the web. Any opinions in the examples do not represent the opinion of the Cambridge Dictionary editors or of Cambridge University Press or its licensors.

A word a day keeps the dictionary away - yen

Dictionary yen

If you don't hold the load, your tits will be charred. You got it, stupid cow. - Yes, Master. - The old woman groaned.

The Oxford English Dictionary added new Korean words!

You are a master after all, Khaavan. - Well done. - How are you her. - Wait a minute.

Now discussing:

I need Pavel Alekseevich. At three tables were two women, 45-50 years old, and a man about their own age. He replied: - I'm listening.

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