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

Bastille Day marks a key moment in the French Revolution, when high taxes and a summer of famine in 1789 led French citizens to storm the Bastille, a military fortress and prison. Emanuella Grinberg, CNN, "A man on a flying board soars above Bastille Day crowds in Paris," 14 July 2019 Francisco Rodríguez, an economist in New York who has advised the moderate opposition, warns of famine. The Economist, "With tenacity and torture, Venezuela’s awful regime is hanging on," 11 July 2019 The fighting has killed untold tens of thousands, displaced millions and plunged parts of the country into famine. Sam Mednick, The Seattle Times, "Attacks on South Sudan health facilities, workers increasing," 23 Apr. 2018 But the Allied campaign failed, and the Nazis punished the Netherlands by blocking food supplies, plunging much of the country into famine. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "The Famine Ended 70 Years Ago, but Dutch Genes Still Bear Scars," 31 Jan. 2018 After the dam’s collapse, the agricultural system failed and famine spread, setting off a mass migration of people. Robert F. Worth, The New York Review of Books, "Yemen Under Siege," 21 Feb. 2019 That would trigger a worse conflict and widespread famine. Fox News, "UAE fast withdrawing from controversial Yemen war," 13 July 2019 Big airlifts began in the 1980s, when Ethiopia suffered tyranny and famine. The Economist, "The killing of a black Jew sparks protests in Israel," 11 July 2019 Interim Archives/Getty Images During the Revolutionary War, the Oneida allies of the revolutionary army walked hundreds of miles from their homeland in what is now upstate New York to relieve the famine at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78. Time Staff, Time, "15 Unsung Moments From American History That Historians Say You Should Know About," 28 June 2019

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

13 Aug 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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