hun·​ger | \ ˈhəŋ-gər How to pronounce hunger (audio) \

Definition of hunger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient
b : an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food The small meal wasn't enough to satisfy his hunger.
c : a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food died of hunger
2 : a strong desire : craving a hunger for success
from hunger
: very bad or inept the jokes were from hunger— Mordecai Richler


hungered; hungering\ ˈhəŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce hunger (audio) \

Definition of hunger (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to feel or suffer hunger (see hunger entry 1) feasting while the poor hunger
2 : to have an eager desire The nation hungers for a strong leader.

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Choose the Right Synonym for hunger


long, yearn, hanker, pine, hunger, thirst mean to have a strong desire for something. long implies a wishing with one's whole heart and often a striving to attain. longed for some rest yearn suggests an eager, restless, or painful longing. yearned for a stage career hanker suggests the uneasy promptings of unsatisfied appetite or desire. always hankering for money pine implies a languishing or a fruitless longing for what is impossible. pined for a lost love hunger and thirst imply an insistent or impatient craving or a compelling need. hungered for a business of his own thirsted for power

Examples of hunger in a Sentence

Noun She has been a leader in the fight against world hunger. One sandwich wasn't enough to satisfy his hunger. Her students have a genuine hunger for knowledge.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But can the Lions maintain their edge and keep their hunger and build upon last year’s breakout season? Mike Bianchi,, "OK, Orlando City, let’s see you do it again! | Commentary," 16 Apr. 2021 What also kept her going, especially during those hardest moments, was her hunger for change. Jeryl Brunner, Forbes, "Even With All The Roadblocks In Her Path, She Got Accepted To Medical School And Created A Non-Profit To Help Remove Barriers To Education," 10 Apr. 2021 The Navy’s hunger for unmanned vehicles is enormous, even though the cutting-edge nature of the field means there are many unknowns about the technology that will go into these vessels and the ways in which they will be used. al, "Austal USA breaks ground on steel production line, opening ‘new era’," 26 Mar. 2021 The chairman declared that the pervasive hunger in the country was due to sparrows eating the nation’s grain. Marty Judge Community Voices Contributor, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Opinion: How a scholar of ‘bad origins’ overcame a communist system to teach capitalist skills in U.S.," 20 Mar. 2021 As the global economy struggles to rebound from the worst recession since World War II, hunger is on the rise. New York Times, "‘I Have No Money for Food’: Among the Young, Hunger Is Rising," 16 Mar. 2021 The hunger for information is so great in Alameda County that the county health department website with vaccination information crashed Wednesday afternoon because so many people tried accessing it. Sarah Ravani,, "‘We are flying blind’: Bay Area politicians say they’re in the dark about vaccine rollout," 13 Jan. 2021 Ninety-five percent of people who struggle with food have a home, and hunger is on the rise for suburban residents, as well as senior citizens. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Food banks expecting uptick in people needing services with benefits set to expire," 15 Dec. 2020 Even in our most affluent jurisdictions, hunger is a worry in households whose members clean our office buildings, bus tables at our restaurants and stock shelves in our stores. Washington Post, "Growing threat of hunger in a wealthy region is blunt example of economic inequality," 14 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Ever since the dawn of Jack White, artists who hunger to reassert the power of rock in a rockless age have tended to sound like reactionary young coots. Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone, "Greta Van Fleet Erect a Cathedral of Neo-Zeppelin Overkill on ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’," 16 Apr. 2021 In The Telling, Gerson implies: Let any who hunger for meaning come find it in Pesach. Bruce Abramson, National Review, "At Passover, a Uniquely Jewish Text Yields Universal Meaning," 19 Mar. 2021 But in the days leading up to Christmas, some who hunger for time with relatives are striking deals with family members to hole up in their individual homes. Kevyn Burger Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Despite health officials' advice, some Minnesotans are self-quarantining and planning to gather for Christmas," 13 Dec. 2020 Four years from now, these pikers will discover the truth: that the cruelty and contempt are not just the essential ingredients of Trumpism but exactly what Republican voters hunger for. Jonathan V. Last, The New Republic, "The Republican Party Is Dead. It’s the Trump Cult Now.," 16 Nov. 2020 If the current political mood and conditions of the country seems ready-made for promises of dramatic change, that does not necessarily mean most voters are hungering for the same wish list as the ideological left. Alexander Burns, New York Times, "Our 2020 Election Guide," 15 May 2020 Day now hungered for action — demonstrations, marches and newspaper articles were no longer enough. Karen Armstrong, New York Times, "Was Dorothy Day a Saint or a Subversive?," 3 Mar. 2020 With young professionals and empty-nesters hungering for homes inside Loop 410 and less open land for development on the North Side, investors are relying on a combination of tactics to find potential sellers. Madison Iszler,, "In fast-changing San Antonio neighborhoods, homeowners flooded with offers from investors," 16 Jan. 2020 Those stories whet the appetites for success of others and inspire them - and all of us - to continue hungering and working for more. Aegis Staff Report,, "Feed your appetite for inspiration at the Taste of SUCCESS on Nov. 1 in Bel Air," 27 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hunger.' 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 hunger


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for hunger

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English hungor; akin to Old High German hungar hunger, Lithuanian kanka torture

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Time Traveler for hunger

Time Traveler

The first known use of hunger was before the 12th century

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Statistics for hunger

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hunger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for hunger



English Language Learners Definition of hunger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very great need for food : a severe lack of food
: an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach that is caused by the need for food
: a strong desire : a strong desire for something or to do something



English Language Learners Definition of hunger (Entry 2 of 2)

literary : to have or feel a strong desire


hun·​ger | \ ˈhəŋ-gər How to pronounce hunger (audio) \

Kids Definition of hunger

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a desire or a need for food
2 : a strong desire a hunger for knowledge


hungered; hungering

Kids Definition of hunger (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to feel a desire or need for food
2 : to have a strong desire He hungered to return home.


hun·​ger | \ ˈhəŋ-gər How to pronounce hunger (audio) \

Medical Definition of hunger

1 : a craving, desire, or urgent need for food
2 : an uneasy sensation occasioned normally by the lack of food and resulting directly from stimulation of the sensory nerves of the stomach by the contraction and churning movement of the empty stomach
3 : a weakened disordered condition brought about by prolonged lack of food die of hunger

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