\ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web If the corals can't retrieve their algae, the vulnerable corals starve and can be struck by disease. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Glowing coral reefs are striving to recover from bleaching, study says," 21 May 2020 Dog wardens went to Neanover’s home in April 2019 after anonymous complaints and found Lou had no food or water, was covered in severe open wounds and was obviously starving, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said at the time. Jeanne Houck,, "Starvation death of Lou the dog sends Butler County man to jail for 180 days," 8 May 2020 He had been held in four concentration camps and had starved, escaped, been caught, and frozen nearly to death. Robert Clark, National Geographic, "‘We were in striped pajamas, lice infested. But we were polite, spoke the truth, and discussed what the world should be like.’," 6 May 2020 His grandmother starved to death; his father was tortured to death — a typical North Korean story. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Up from North Korea," 4 May 2020 Go to work or starve, particularly as bipartisan governments of the past four decades have carved away at the welfare state. Sarah Jaffe, The New Republic, "The Post-Pandemic Future of Work," 1 May 2020 But the shore of the lower estuary, now starved of a river, has for years been sculpted more by the incoming and outgoing tides, which have left serpentine treelike patterns etched in the sands. Ian James,, "How a trickle of water is breathing life into the parched Colorado River Delta," 19 Apr. 2020 The department also enacted an emergency hunt because even with hay, some animals would starve. Popular Science, "GPS collars help wildlife researchers answer important questions," 23 Mar. 2020 Ironically, this starves city governments of the resources to provide the infrastructures that really matter for the poor. Tom Goodfellow, Quartz Africa, "Africa’s big infrastructure projects are often a win for international investors not for Africans," 19 Mar. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for starve

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for starve

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Starve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for starve


How to pronounce starve (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on starve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with starve

Spanish Central: Translation of starve

Nglish: Translation of starve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of starve for Arabic Speakers

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