famish

verb
fam·​ish | \ ˈfa-mish How to pronounce famish (audio) \
famished; famishing; famishes

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

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Other Words from famish

famishment \ ˈfa-​mish-​mənt How to pronounce famishment (audio) \ noun

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."

Examples of famish in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

When someone is famished, even five minutes can seem interminable. Dear Abby, oregonlive.com, "Dear Abby: Stay-at-home mom angry, frustrated after breadwinner husband loses his job," 24 Aug. 2019 For years, researchers have seen mice and rats perform well on cognitive tests when famished. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "Not So Fast," 24 Sep. 2018 The boys were famished and weak when they were found, having lost an average of more than four pounds each. John Bacon, ajc, "WATCH: Video shows rescued Thai soccer players flashing victory sign from hospital beds," 12 July 2018 After all that intense activity, my kids would be famished. Charlotte Hilton Andersen, Redbook, "Parenting Challenge: How Do You Get Through the Vending Machine Gauntlet?," 15 Jan. 2012 The boys were famished and weak when they were found, having lost an average of more than four pounds each. John Bacon, ajc, "WATCH: Video shows rescued Thai soccer players flashing victory sign from hospital beds," 12 July 2018 The boys were famished and weak when they were found, having lost an average of more than four pounds each. John Bacon, ajc, "WATCH: Video shows rescued Thai soccer players flashing victory sign from hospital beds," 12 July 2018 The boys were famished and weak when they were found, having lost an average of more than four pounds each. John Bacon, ajc, "WATCH: Video shows rescued Thai soccer players flashing victory sign from hospital beds," 12 July 2018 The boys were famished and weak when they were found, having lost an average of more than four pounds each. John Bacon, ajc, "WATCH: Video shows rescued Thai soccer players flashing victory sign from hospital beds," 12 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of famish

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for famish

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

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Statistics for famish

Last Updated

28 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for famish

The first known use of famish was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for famish

famish

verb
fam·​ish | \ ˈfa-mish How to pronounce famish (audio) \
famished; famishing

Kids Definition of famish

: starve

More from Merriam-Webster on famish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with famish

Spanish Central: Translation of famish

Britannica English: Translation of famish for Arabic Speakers

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