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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In many cases, their ambition is entertaining to enjoy from afar and the worst case scenario from their overzealous hunger for attention is a bad case of schadenfreude. Michelle Konstantinovsky, Glamour, 3 May 2022 Klein said the bitterness of the cold and the bitterness of her hunger would become unbearable during the years of intense labor at Nazi camps. Jessica Boehm, The Arizona Republic, 5 Apr. 2022 His hunger, his need, the things that make a man a man, have apparently fizzled out. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 18 Mar. 2022 As major media companies have launched in-house streaming services, their hunger for buzzy shows and movies has become insatiable. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 9 Mar. 2022 For instance, one participant said that her hunger returned to normal after stopping the injections. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 4 Mar. 2022 During the first half of the 20th century, their hunger for power and territory had ravaged Europe twice, leaving millions upon millions dead, especially as the result of Nazi Germany's war of annihilation in Eastern Europe. Rafael Loss, CNN, 3 Mar. 2022 The children are headed up by class captain Pem Zam – a 9-year-old charmer from Lunana essentially playing herself – and their hunger for learning is entirely convincing. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Feb. 2022 Those looking to satiate their post-sauna hunger can preorder a picnic lunch at the time of booking. Julia Eskins, Travel + Leisure, 16 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This will hit the spot for viewers and possibly awards-bestowing bodies who hunger for stories of audacious, norm-shattering women. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Jan. 2022 The novel is both a breath of fresh air for those who hunger for accurate representation of the myriad of communities depicted here, as well as an accessible entry point for those less familiar. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 31 Aug. 2021 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, 16 Apr. 2021 In The Telling, Gerson implies: Let any who hunger for meaning come find it in Pesach. Bruce Abramson, National Review, 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, 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, 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, 15 May 2020 Day now hungered for action — demonstrations, marches and newspaper articles were no longer enough. Karen Armstrong, New York Times, 3 Mar. 2020 See More

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.

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

Learn More About hunger

Time Traveler for hunger

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near hunger

hungary blue


hunger flower

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Statistics for hunger

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hunger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hunger


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

More from Merriam-Webster on hunger

Nglish: Translation of hunger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hunger for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about hunger


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