A series of yellow-emitting carbonitride phosphors with compositions of (Y1-x Cex) 2 (CN2) 3 (x=0-0.1) was synthesized by using exothermic solid-state metathesis reactions. The wavelength of the broad band yellow emission was tunable, varying from 570 to 577 nm. The photoluminescence (PL) intensity enhanced with increasing Ce3+ dopant content and was optimized at 3 mol % under excitation at 415 nm. We analyzed the 5d energy levels of Ce3+ in a capped trigonal prismatic complex and estimated the vibronic coupling parameters and Stokes shifts. To understand the thermal quenching behavior, the temperature-dependent PL for (Y1.97 Ce 0.03)2 (CN2)3 was investigated. To demonstrate its potential application, we fabricated a warm white light-emitting diode (LED) using (Y1.97Ce0.03)2(CN 2)3, pumped with a 420 nm GaInN LED chip, and the electroluminescence data were also presented.