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.

Examples of famine in a Sentence

The famine affected half the continent. millions killed by war, drought, and famine
Recent Examples on the Web In Somalia, many farmers rely on irrigation powered by diesel engines: high fuel prices compounded with drought have experts worried about famine. Celina Tebor, USA TODAY, 12 May 2022 The annual Refugee Voices in Film honors filmmakers — many of whom are refugees themselves — who document people enduring irregular migration, whether from violence, famine or political oppression. Tim Gray, Variety, 10 May 2022 But climate-smart agriculture may help in places vulnerable to drought and famine. David Bruckmeier, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2022 Food production would crash, triggering a global famine that would destroy modern civilization, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances. Dr. Ira Helfand And Michael Christ, CNN, 3 May 2022 India is one of the world’s largest producers of wheat and uses its production to buffer against famine. Priya Shukla, Forbes, 30 Apr. 2022 Europeans who tried to organize famine relief were dismissed as Nazis. Timothy Snyder, The New Yorker, 28 Apr. 2022 Hollywood, newly fixated on awards and holding back many of its best films until the last few months of the year, was increasingly a producer of seasonal crops; long stretches were marked by creative famine. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 28 Apr. 2022 For example, hoodia is a cactus San communities use to suppress appetite during long hunts or famine. Brenna Henn, The Conversation, 19 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near famine

family way


famine bread

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Statistics for famine

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Famine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/famine. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for famine


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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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