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

The four-and-a-half-year-old war has killed tens of thousands people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. NBC News, "U.S. military drone shot down over Yemen, officials say," 21 Aug. 2019 It's been a feast-or-famine sort of atmosphere this season in Alaska. Matthew Cappucci, Anchorage Daily News, "An atmospheric river is drenching parts of Alaska after a stretch of scorching weather," 6 Aug. 2019 In terms of tangibles, the guy who departed hitting .241 in 83 at-bats figures to have minimal impact on a feast-or-famine offense that struggles to manufacture runs. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Ben Zobrist’s return is a nice storyline — but he’s not going to rescue the Cubs," 30 July 2019 Feast or famine, and this will be just his second-ever major and first since 2014. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "Ranking the Top 100 Players at the 2019 British Open," 16 July 2019 The Summer Exhibition has happened every year since 1769, peace or war, feast or famine. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition Takes a Traditional Turn," 13 July 2019 Dormancy also gave microbes a way to survive the feast-or-famine waves of food and other essentials, as well as the limitations of extreme environments. Carrie Arnold, WIRED, "A Blazing Hot Coal Seam Shows How Microbes Can Spring to Life," 21 Apr. 2019 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

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

27 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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