\ 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 Hughes, after Bobby Sands, was the second IRA hunger striker to starve himself to death in protest of the British government’s refusal to classify Republican internees as political prisoners. James Parker, The Atlantic, "Seamus Heaney’s Journey Into Darkness," 20 June 2020 They're designed to starve al-Assad's regime of funds and bring him back to the global negotiating table to facilitate an end to the brutal, yearslong civil war. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for June 18: Rayshard Brooks, police, Covid-19, John Bolton, Syria," 18 June 2020 The growth of the police department's costs is unsustainable and threatens to starve other city services, the resolution states. Genevieve Redsten, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Common Council exploring 10% cut in police budget in response to protests," 15 June 2020 Restaurants remained closed, and nearby rat colonies started to starve. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "At Least the Pandemic Isn’t Creating Super Rats," 8 June 2020 The Ming could simply lock the gate and starve these barbarians into submission. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "When China Met the West," 6 June 2020 The virus may invade the brain, or starve it of oxygen. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Tuesday, June 2," 2 June 2020 Now, retail stores starved for business will only be offering curbside or in-store pickup. NBC News, "New York City emerges from coronavirus lockdown and begins phase one of reopening," 8 June 2020 But on the other hand, in this moment of economic distress, Indian companies are starving for capital. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz India, "India’s new aversion to Chinese investment will hurt its own businesses," 4 June 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

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Starve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 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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