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 hungering (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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Synonyms & Antonyms for hunger

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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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 According to Feeding America, one in nine people in the United States struggle with hunger, and the organization is currently working to help food banks respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, "Celebrate National BBQ Month With Oscar Mayer's Front Yard Cookout — While Staying 12 Hot Dogs Apart," 23 Apr. 2020 The guys that are inner-driven, have a hunger and have a thirst, that is a very low percentage of athletes that play any sport. Mark Heim |, al, "COVID-19 pandemic wreaks economic havoc on basketball circuit: ‘It’s killing the kids’," 20 Apr. 2020 The jazz great almost turned his back on music in the early 1960s, but returned with a hunger to push the boundaries. Lars Brandle, The Hollywood Reporter, "Lee Konitz, Jazz Saxophone Great and Miles Davis Collaborator, Dies of Coronavirus Complications at 92," 17 Apr. 2020 But with such a large population already struggling with hunger, additional measures to address their health and safety have been pushed to the brink. Sarita Santoshini, The Christian Science Monitor, "What a lockdown means when home is hundreds of miles away," 13 Apr. 2020 As the number of infections climbs, health officials are typically releasing broad information, despite a hunger from residents for more details. Indystar, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana coronavirus updates: State reports 536 new cases, 12 new deaths," 6 Apr. 2020 The man is a chemist by trade, with a passion for baseball, and a hunger to save the world. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Doctor says baseball can 'lead the way' on coronavirus response," 19 Mar. 2020 Free meals during the crises To alleviate hunger, school — which were temporarily closed in Michigan by the governor in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus — are still offering food to children and families. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Coronavirus could put hundreds of thousands out of work. Here's how to get help," 16 Mar. 2020 The movement created a hunger for small, weird little games with low barriers to entry. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "The Race to Save Flash Games from Internet Oblivion," 6 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Researchers found that classical music had an initial calming effect, but the mutts soon hungered for other tunes. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Where My Dogs At? Spotify Launches Playlists for Pets," 15 Jan. 2020 But dating apps have left many people feeling isolated or frustrated and hungering for more real-life interaction. Jennifer Miller, New York Times, "Maybe the Best Way to Find Love Is … Not on an App?," 6 Sep. 2019 But the Yankees’ starting pitching has stumbled in the past week, leading them to consider deals for starters and relievers with teams hungering for top young players such as Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andújar, Clint Frazier and Deivi Garcia. Ronald Blum, The Denver Post, "Arms race ahead of MLB trade window shutting Wednesday," 30 July 2019 This nasty, brutish chapter of American politics has voters hungering for stable leadership, a unifying vision, a path out of the darkness. Molly Ball, Time, "What Do the Democrats Stand For? Inside a Fight Over America's Future," 25 July 2019 This was the era when artists started to forsake aristocratic and institutional patronage—bucking the bias of the annual Salon while hungering for inclusion in it—in favor of support from a burgeoning middle class. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Renoir’s Problem Nudes," 19 Aug. 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

12 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hunger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for hunger


How to pronounce hunger (audio)

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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Comments on hunger

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