famish

play
verb fam·ish \ ˈfa-mish \

Definition of famish

transitive verb
1 :to cause to suffer severely from hunger
2 archaic :to cause to starve to death
intransitive verb
1 archaic :starve
2 :to suffer for lack of something necessary
  • a moment when French poetry in particular was famishing for such invention
  • —T. S. Eliot

famishment

play \ˈfa-mish-mənt\ noun

famish was our Word of the Day on 11/29/2012. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of famish from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Famish likely developed as an alteration of Middle English famen, meaning "to starve." The Middle English word was borrowed from the Anglo-French verb afamer, which etymologists believe came from Vulgar Latin affamare. We say "believe" because, while no written evidence has yet been found for the Vulgar Latin word affamare, it would be the expected source for the Anglo-French verb based on the combination of the Latin prefix ad- ("to" or "toward") and the root noun "fames" ("hunger"). In contemporary English, the verb "famish" is still used on rare occasions, but it is considerably less common than the related adjective "famished," which usually means "hungry" or "starving" but can also mean "needy" or "being in want."

Origin and Etymology of famish

Middle English, probably alteration of famen, from Anglo-French afamer, from Vulgar Latin *affamare, from Latin ad- + fames


FAMISH Defined for Kids

famish

play
verb fam·ish \ ˈfa-mish \

Definition of famish for Students

famished; famishing

Learn More about famish


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