famine

noun
fam·​ine | \ ˈfa-mən How to pronounce famine (audio) \

Definition of famine

1 : an extreme scarcity of food The famine affected most of the country.
2 archaic : starvation
3 archaic : a ravenous appetite
4 : a great shortage Transportation problems resulted in a coal famine.

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Examples of famine in a Sentence

The famine affected half the continent. millions killed by war, drought, and famine

Recent Examples on the Web

Part of the reason these creatures have survived for so long is their ability to muddle through periods of famine. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Ancient Giant Isopods Love Eating Alligators, New Study Finds," 12 Apr. 2019 Released in October 2018, The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating to Lose Weight and Feel Ageless is a lifestyle inspired by Terry's feast-and-famine eating style during his medical school residency. Karla Walsh, Woman's Day, "Everything You Need to Know About the Dubrow Diet," 29 Jan. 2019 The Trump administration has taken many steps to mitigate Yemen’s suffering from war, disease and famine. Mike Pompeo, WSJ, "The U.S.-Saudi Partnership Is Vital," 27 Nov. 2018 On the latest episode of Recode Decode, Kim talks about efforts to reduce famines and the future of work amid massive job automation. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Is the podcast bubble bursting?," 24 Sep. 2018 That is up from zero in the 1990s, when famine pushed North Koreans to start bartering and trading in black markets to survive. Niharika Mandhana, WSJ, "At Trump-Kim Summit, Host Vietnam Blazes Trail for North Korea," 23 Feb. 2019 Winters became more severe, crops were devastated, and famine was common throughout much of Europe. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "European Discovery of the Americas Killed So Many People It Made the Earth Colder," 5 Feb. 2019 Right now, in Yemen, a famine has left 14 million people extremely close to starvation. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Why it’s so hard to get people to care about mass suffering," 27 Nov. 2018 But the North Korea of 2018 is not the North Korea of 1998, when a famine was rampaging through the country, killing maybe 2 million people. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "Reporter’s notebook: Covering North Korea, daring to hope for change.," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'famine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of famine

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for famine

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from feim, faim hunger, from Latin fames

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Statistics for famine

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for famine

The first known use of famine was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for famine

famine

noun

English Language Learners Definition of famine

: a situation in which many people do not have enough food to eat

famine

noun
fam·​ine | \ ˈfa-mən How to pronounce famine (audio) \

Kids Definition of famine

: a very great shortage of food that affects many people over a wide area

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More from Merriam-Webster on famine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with famine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for famine

Spanish Central: Translation of famine

Nglish: Translation of famine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of famine for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about famine

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