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When you hear the word "yen," you first think of Japanese yen? I didn't know "yen" has another meaning: a strong desire! Wow. Suddenly, I yenned to know if the two words had something to do with each other. Though I don't deny I have a yen for (Japanese) yen, if the origins were just like that, it could be a funny story that would possibly be funnier than normal jokes.

Well, this page suggests the two seem to have the same origins, from Chinese (Mandarin) yuán! And its "Word Origins" part says "yuán" means "a desire for opium." Opium! Hmm, Japanese yen is so addictive like opium that people have a yen for yen? Come on, my stupid assumption makes sense? No, no, あり得ねー (impossible)!

Ahem... sorry for my idle talk. Seriously, "yuán" seems to have another meaning: round. The kanji character for the currency is 円 (en), meaning "circle." That's it. OK, that's it, folks.

One US dollar is 118 yen as of today.


I have a distinct desire to say that I've got a yen for lot of yen yen. But that wouldn't be civilized. (For the record, though, I do prefer the flatter rectangular style of 円, of course. With an abundance of zeroes.)

I commonly use "yen" in the sense, "I have a yen for yen". (I wonder if younger people do. It sounds a bit old-fashioned.) But I've never heard anyone use yen as a verb. ("I yenned to know.") However, my online dictionary says that it can be used as a verb and agrees that it comes from the Chinese "to crave (as a drug addict)".

For a verb, I think it is more natural to use "yearn"--but that comes from German and is no relationship to the two "yen" stemming from the same Chinese root.

By the way, the primary definition of "yen" in my dictionary is "Japanese currency"; "longing" or "craving" takes second place.

I'm so glad that we share this yen for knowledge.