Long For: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 31, 2023
The idiom "long for" refers to the deep desire or yearning one has for something or someone. This longing is typically emotionally charged and can be associated with both tangible and intangible desires.

In short:

"Long for" is an idiom that signifies a deep emotional yearning or desire for someone or something.

What Does "Long For" Mean?

The idiom "long for" communicates an intense desire or yearning that often transcends physical boundaries. This idiomatic expression is used to convey a strong emotional connection to what is being longed for. As an idiom, "long for" goes beyond the literal meaning of its words to express a much deeper sentiment. "Long for" is often used in emotional contexts but can also be utilized in casual scenarios, showcasing its versatility as an idiomatic expression.

  • Primarily, "long for" signifies an intense desire or yearning.
  • This idiom can express a longing for tangible and intangible objects or states of being.

Where Does "Long For" Come From?

The idiom "long for" has its roots in Old English, where "longian" meant to yearn after. Over time, "longian" transformed into "long for" in modern English while preserving the essence of its original meaning.

Historical Example

"My soul longed for thy salvation: I have hoped in thy word." 

—(Psalm 119:81, King James Bible)

"Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. Nevertheless, I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever." 

—Psalms 73:21-26 King James Version (KJV)

10 Examples of "Long For" in Sentences

Below are ten examples illustrating the use of "long for" in various contexts:

  • long for the tranquility of the countryside.
  • After a long day at work, I long for a peaceful evening at home, but first, drive safely on your way back!
  • We all long for peace and happiness.
  • He no longer longed for the extravagant life of the city.
  • After years of living in the city, I long for the peacefulness of the countryside and happy trails to explore.
  • Who wouldn't long for a sunny beach in the middle of winter?
  • Despite her success, she still longs for a simpler life.
  • long for the day when I receive lots of love from my family and friends.
  • She longs for a reunion with her long-lost friend.
  • In the light of the approaching sunset, she couldn't help but long for the warm embrace of her childhood home.

Examples of "Long For" in Pop Culture

The idiom "long for" also makes appearances in popular culture, as shown in the examples below:

  • In Adele's hit song, "Someone Like You," the lyrics express, "I long for you, but nothing matters."
  • In the movie Titanic, Rose says to Jack, "I long for freedom, just like you."
  • In the book "The Great Gatsby," Gatsby longs for Daisy's affection.
  • The character Luke Skywalker in Star Wars longs for adventure.
  • In the TV show "Friends," Ross always longs for Rachel.
  • In the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter longs for his parents.
  • In the poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," the poet longs for the bliss of solitude.
  • In the novel "1984", Winston Smith longs for a free society.

Other Ways to Say "Long For"

There are other expressions that can convey a similar meaning to "long for."

Some of these include:

  • I yearn for a life of adventure.
  • She craves his affection.
  • He desires a world of peace.
  • They ache for their homeland.
  • We pine for the good old days.
  • Who doesn't hanker after success?
  • Despite her accomplishments, she still thirsts for recognition.
  • Many lusts for power.
  • He hungers for a taste of victory.
  • She covets the peace of the countryside.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Long For"

  • What is the origin of the idiom "long for"?
    It comes from Old English, with the verb "longian" meaning to yearn after.
  • Can "long for" be used in formal writing?
    Yes, it can be used in both formal and informal contexts.
  • Is "long for" a negative expression?
    No, it's not inherently negative. The tone depends on the context.
  • What is the noun form of "long for"?
    The noun form is "longing."
  • Can "long for" be used without an object?
    Typically, "long for" is used with an object. The object can be a noun or a verb in the "-ing" form.
  • Are there synonyms for "long for"?
    Yes, some synonyms include yearning for, desire, crave, ache for, and pine for.
  • Can "long for" be used sarcastically?
    Yes, like many phrases, it can be used sarcastically, depending on context and tone.
  • Is "long for" commonly used in everyday conversation?
    While not as common as some idioms, "long for" is still used in conversation, particularly when expressing deep desires or yearnings.
  • What is the opposite of "long for"?
    The opposite could be "to disdain" or "to despise".
  • Can "long for" be used to express physical desire, like hunger or thirst?
    While it's more commonly used to express emotional or psychological desire, it can also be used to express physical desire in a metaphorical sense.

Final Thoughts About "Long for"

The idiom "long for" is a versatile and emotionally evocative phrase in the English language.

  • It originates from Old English.
  • It can be used in a variety of contexts and sentences.
  • It has a presence in popular culture, from songs to movies to books.
  • There are many synonyms and alternative ways to express the same idea.

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