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 The new effort relies on money approved by Congress as part of President Joe Biden's coronavirus relief package to break what experts say is a feast-or-famine cycle in U.S. preparedness for disease threats. Remy Tumin New York Times, Star Tribune, "Vaccine makers plan on boosters," 16 Apr. 2021 Documents report widespread famine, diseases and land abandonment happening at the same time, contribuiting to a religious and political crisis in Egypt. David Bressan, Forbes, "Volcanic Eruptions May Have Led To Fall Of Ancient Egyptian Civilization," 21 Mar. 2021 How does one return to a place only known to them through stories laced with bullets, death, famine, and persecution? Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Vince Moua talks Asian and LGBTQIA+ representation on the show," 18 Mar. 2021 In Mecklenburg, once wartime casualties, famine, and plague are accounted for, the toll may have been well over 50 percent. Sigrid Macrae, Harper's Magazine, "Two Germanys," 16 Mar. 2021 So much sports now, to say the least: April famine, September feast. Fred Lief, Chron, "A lamentation for sports in 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 Over the decades, North Korea and the ruling Kim family have shown resilience through famine, other public-health scares and rounds of sanctions. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "North Korea’s Economy Hit Harder Than It Has Been in Decades," 18 Dec. 2020 Fighting off famine, poverty and disease, while keeping children vaccinated and in school, will require $35.1 billion — more than double the record $17 billion raised in 2020, the United Nations said. Chronicle Staff, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Nov. 27-Dec. 3," 4 Dec. 2020 Role plays a part in that sort of famine, but it’s not everything. Tom Rende, Forbes, "Which Three NBA Rookies Have Seen Their Stock Dip The Most Since The Draft?," 10 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for famine

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for famine

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Famine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/famine. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for famine



English Language Learners Definition of famine

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


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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Comments on famine

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