\ ˈstärv How to pronounce starve (audio) \
starved; starving

Definition of starve

intransitive verb

1a : to perish from lack of food
b : to suffer extreme hunger
2a archaic : to die of cold
b British : to suffer greatly from cold
3 : to suffer or perish from deprivation starved for affection

transitive verb

1a : to kill with hunger
b : to deprive of nourishment
c : to cause to capitulate by or as if by depriving of nourishment
2 : to destroy by or cause to suffer from deprivation
3 archaic : to kill with cold

Examples of starve in a Sentence

Without food they would starve. They left him to starve out in the desert. providing food for starving children They tried to starve their enemies into submission. It was clear that the dog had been starved. You don't have to starve yourself to lose weight.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web During the pandemic, in a country like the United States or India, our concern was that nobody should starve. Jim Dobson, Forbes, "Modern Day Mystic Sadhguru On His Motorcycle Adventure Across America, And His New Book On Karma," 27 Apr. 2021 The measure was sent to Gov. Doug Ducey following a party-line vote in the Senate, where Democrats warned the measure could starve election offices of the funds needed to run secure and efficient elections. Jonathan J. Cooper, ajc, "Arizona Legislature votes to outlaw private election grants," 7 Apr. 2021 Except Biden made the charge even more lurid by alleging that Trump had let children starve to death. The Editors, National Review, "Biden’s Woeful Press Conference," 25 Mar. 2021 Reporters in the region have documented the grim conditions in border camps where many of those migrants have lived, although Biden exaggerated in saying that children had been left to starve. Los Angeles Times, "Five takeaways from Biden’s first news conference," 25 Mar. 2021 Eventually, Huggins and other women chose to starve. Valerie Boyd, Bon Appétit, "How Black Panthers Fed Their Communities—For Free," 23 Mar. 2021 Many who defied lockdown guidance had no choice — it was go to work or starve. Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, "How future generations will judge humanity’s performance against the coronavirus," 4 Mar. 2021 Where Geddert would berate, beat, or starve the girls, Nassar would soothe, massage, and reward them. Tara Sullivan,, "Suicide of gymnastics coach charged with abuse can be a beginning, not an end," 4 Mar. 2021 Infectious disease experts agree at least 70-85% of the country needs to become immune to starve the virus. Anne Flaherty, ABC News, "When will life return to normal? COVID experts consider what summer, fall might look like," 5 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'starve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of starve

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for starve

Middle English sterven to die, starve, from Old English steorfan to die; akin to Old High German sterban to die, and probably to Lithuanian starinti to stiffen — more at stare

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about starve

Time Traveler for starve

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for starve

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Starve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for starve



English Language Learners Definition of starve

: to suffer or die from lack of food : to suffer extreme hunger
: to cause (a person or animal) to suffer or die because of lack of food
chiefly US : to want or need something very much


\ ˈstärv How to pronounce starve (audio) \
starved; starving

Kids Definition of starve

1 : to suffer or die or cause to suffer or die from lack of food
2 : to suffer or cause to suffer from a lack of something other than food The dog was starving for affection.


\ ˈstärv How to pronounce starve (audio) \
starved; starving

Medical Definition of starve

intransitive verb

1 : to perish from lack of food
2 : to suffer extreme hunger

transitive verb

1 : to kill with hunger
2 : to deprive of nourishment

More from Merriam-Webster on starve

Nglish: Translation of starve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of starve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on starve

What made you want to look up starve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!