Definition of famish
1 : to cause to suffer severely from hunger
2 archaic : to cause to starve to death
1 archaic : starve
2 : to suffer for lack of something necessary <a moment when French poetry in particular was famishing for such invention — T. S. Eliot>
Did You Know?
Famish likely developed as an alteration of Middle English famen, meaning "to starve." The Middle English word was borrowed from the Anglo-French verb afamer, which etymologists believe came from Vulgar Latin affamare. We say "believe" because, while no written evidence has yet been found for the Vulgar Latin word affamare, it would be the expected source for the Anglo-French verb based on the combination of the Latin prefix ad- ("to" or "toward") and the root noun "fames" ("hunger"). In contemporary English, the verb "famish" is still used on rare occasions, but it is considerably less common than the related adjective "famished," which usually means "hungry" or "starving" but can also mean "needy" or "being in want."
Origin of famish
Middle English, probably alteration of famen, from Anglo-French afamer, from Vulgar Latin *affamare, from Latin ad- + fames
First Known Use: 15th century
Rhymes with famish
FAMISH Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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