You may do this when you're tired or after a nap. This movement is usually called "yawning" but I think yawning is a bit different. With this movement, we may yawn too. After waking up, it usually comes with a yawning but when we are tired, we usually don't yawn with. And this movement makes us feel better.

The picture below is an example of this movement:

enter image description here

The picture's source: nordic-comfort.co.uk
In some languages, like Persian (aka Farsi), there is no difference between yawning and this movement but in some other languages like Azerbaijani, there is a difference.

  • 27
    That woman is stretching.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 1:45
  • 8
    @DanBron In reality, that woman is posing, but that's getting away from the point of the image...
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 21:18
  • 1
    Interesting question. I think if the OP was looking for the word stretching, ELL would have been the better place to ask. If the OP was really fishing for pandiculation, then ELU is the right place. Just another example of how the dividing line is more about the answer sought than the question asked. (To the O.P.: you probably don't want to start saying, "After yesterday's workout, it felt so good to pandiculate this morning" – at least, not in casual conversation.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 13:56
  • But in Farsi we don't call both of them " yawning"! We call this one " كش و قوس دادن"! , @Amirreza Nasiri.
    – Soudabeh
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:44
  • @Soudabeh You right but it's like stretching in English. We may use it for other purposes. In Azerbaijani language for example, we use "گَرنَشماخ" specially for this. Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 11:36

4 Answers 4


There is a specific name for it: pandiculation.

A stretching and stiffening of the trunk and extremities, as when fatigued and drowsy or on waking, often accompanied by yawning.


enter image description here

Joseph Ducreux pandiculating; self-portrait ca 1783

Note: While stretching is more common, it is also more general. OP didn't specifically asked for a common word and there are details in the question. Pandiculation is a tailor-made word for this specific movement. At least, you learned a new word if you didn't know it.

  • 7
    I challenge you to look at that painting and not yawn. Just saying.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 2:53
  • 3
    THIS is the correct answer. +1. Nice job truly understanding the question.
    – Josh
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 3:02
  • 2
    @AmirrezaNasiri: You can find it on many online dictionaries: MW, Vocabulary, TFD etc.
    – ermanen
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 3:53
  • 4
    That portrait needs to be a meme.
    – ADTC
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 15:58
  • 8
    @AmirrezaNasiri It's not a common word. I'm a native English speaker and I don't think I've ever come across this word before. Google Ngrams suggests it's about 1/1000 times as common in books as 'yawn': books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – bdsl
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 1:42

She is doing the same thing this cat is doing: stretching.

English doesn't have a common word for the stretching associated with yawning, or with waking up. Do it whenever you need to, just because it feels good.

  • 27
    While "pandiculation" may be a technically correct term, the likelihood that any audience will understand you when you say it is extremely low. This is the answer if you want people to understand you. You might pair it like "Yawn and stretch" to ensure the full understanding.
    – TecBrat
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 3:44


(Britain, dialectal, chiefly Scotland, intransitive) To stretch after sleep.

  • I’ve never heard this before, but it’s a lovely wee word – immediately adding to my vocabulary of words to use whenever I’m in the northern parts of Britain! Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 9:02

To "stretch" or to "stretch oneself" is by far the commonest usage for the concept. It means to thrust out one's limbs and tighten one's muscles after being relaxed. "To pandiculate" is, as I have looked, a physiological term, though it may well be used in a formal tone. A bonus expression that does not bear upon the case in point is "to stretch one's legs", which means to exercise oneself by walking. Care must be taken not to mix up "stretch oneself" and "stretch one's legs" by taking one for the other.

  • 8
    The woman in photo is "stretching". To "stretch oneself" is to choose to perform tasks that one finds challenging, e.g., as training or practice. (For example, "The best student stretched himself by attempting the most difficult problems in the textbook.") Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 8:41

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