rav·​en·​ous ˈra-və-nəs How to pronounce ravenous (audio)
: rapacious
ravenous wolves
: very eager or greedy for food, satisfaction, or gratification
a ravenous appetite
ravenously adverb
ravenousness noun

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ravishing or ravenous?

Ravenous and ravishing are not synonyms, and mixing these two words may lead to potentially awkward writing or conversation. Ravenous is commonly used with the meaning “very eager or greedy for food, satisfaction, or gratification,” and ravishing means “unusually attractive, pleasing, or striking.” If you find yourself hungry and standing in front of a spectacular-looking meal you would say (of the food) “that looks ravishing,” and (of yourself) “I am ravenous.” You may, of course, describe yourself as ravishing, but should be aware that you are commenting on your appearance rather than your hunger.

Choose the Right Synonym for ravenous

voracious, gluttonous, ravenous, rapacious mean excessively greedy.

voracious applies especially to habitual gorging with food or drink.

teenagers are often voracious eaters

gluttonous applies to one who delights in eating or acquiring things especially beyond the point of necessity or satiety.

an admiral who was gluttonous for glory

ravenous implies excessive hunger and suggests violent or grasping methods of dealing with food or with whatever satisfies an appetite.

a nation with a ravenous lust for territorial expansion

rapacious often suggests excessive and utterly selfish acquisitiveness or avarice.

rapacious developers indifferent to environmental concerns

Examples of ravenous in a Sentence

By the time dinner was ready, we were ravenous. we were ravenous after our canoe paddling, and the chili bubbling over the campfire smelled heavenly
Recent Examples on the Web So smash goes the jar in a locker-room sequence that brings Sam’s ugliest fears to the fore, unleashing the ravenous supernatural force trapped inside. Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2023 During the Cretaceous period 125 million years ago, a ravenous Repenomamus, an ancient mammal the size of an opossum, pounced on an unsuspecting Psittacosaurus—an herbivorous dinosaur more than three times its size. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 18 July 2023 Throughout, composer Christopher Stracey’s score is in tune with Anna’s ravenous need to believe, exquisitely expressed by Buckley, as is Amir’s by Ahmed. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Sep. 2023 Nearly one month after ravenous wildfires swept through the Hawaiian island of Maui, families and individuals impacted by the natural disaster are still in need of extensive support. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 31 Aug. 2023 Amid this incredible run, fans grew more ravenous for a sequel, and Kirschner found himself back in a Disney conference room pitching new ideas. Hunter Ingram, Variety, 13 Aug. 2023 Her ravenous fans ate up the release, which amassed over 200 million streams across platforms. Time, 16 Aug. 2023 But even these hellish habitats are crawling with life, ranging from giant clams and ravenous crabs to spindly octopuses and ghostly eelpout fish. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 9 Aug. 2023 As the Mediterranean’s summer heat waves grow fiercer, so too do its ravenous wildfires. Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ravenous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English ravynous, raveynous, from ravyn, raveyn "robbery, rapacity" + -ous -ous — more at ravin

Note: Alternatively, and perhaps more likely, ravynous, etc., may be a derivative of an unattested Middle English verb—see the note at raven entry 3.

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ravenous was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near ravenous

Cite this Entry

“Ravenous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ravenous. Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


rav·​en·​ous ˈrav-(ə-)nəs How to pronounce ravenous (audio)
: very eager for food or satisfaction
ravenously adverb
ravenousness noun

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