Definition of famish in English:



[WITH OBJECT]archaic
  • 1 Reduce (someone) to extreme hunger.

    ‘they had famished the city into surrender’
    • ‘I was still wondering what famished them, since the reason for their leanness, and their skin's sad scurf, was not obvious yet.’
    • ‘Many people also opt for famishing themselves in order to shed weight more quickly. But famishing oneself is not a recommendation of quick weight loss.’
    dying of hunger, dying from lack of food, faint from lack of food, deprived of food, undernourished, malnourished, starved, half-starved, unfed
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[no object]Be extremely hungry.
      • ‘He looks famished and dishevelled and in no way gainfully employed.’
      • ‘Sacrifices always lessened his appetite, but he had not eaten since morning, and he was considerably famished.’
      • ‘He was lying face down and looked famished and exhausted.’
      • ‘Food riots broke out, and as unemployment reached 40 percent, famished angry people wandered the streets.’
      • ‘And some of them arrived in very bad states of malnutrition, also [suffering from] skin diseases and very, very famished and exhausted.’
      • ‘Frightened, the boy ran; but famished as he was, he did not run far and lingered next to a shop where the apples were still in sight.’
      • ‘But even a day later, she is not so well - she is famished, utterly exhausted physically and emotionally.’
      • ‘One day Esau returns from the countryside, exhausted and famished, to find his brother Jacob cooking a stew.’
      • ‘Jordan said: ‘It looked famished and was a bit unsteady on its feet.’’
      • ‘It was dreadful, because if people are famished and dying you have to do intensive feeding seven or eight times a day.’
      • ‘I was beginning to feel a little famished with all the smiling, dancing and chit-chatting, so I excused myself from my little group of friends to get myself some edible delicacies from the buffet table.’
      • ‘They're sleep deprived, dehydrated, exhausted, and famished.’
      • ‘Trivedy said 5000 famished people had congregated next to a church in the coastal town of Nova Mambone.’
      • ‘Jacob and his brother Esau were pretty tight-knit, until one day Esau returns from a long trip, famished.’
      • ‘The Roman soldiers waited year after year until they knew that the people were famished and then they rushed in and slaughtered them by the thousands.’
      • ‘The rope dug into her flesh, her stomach, causing her to become further aware of how famished she was.’
      • ‘Burning off fat rather than energy stored in muscles also means you are less likely to feel famished after an exercise session and order that self-defeating portion of fries at the health club restaurant.’
      • ‘The first few minutes were spent concentrating on the food, for the women were famished.’
      • ‘But when you're famished in subzero temperatures, you're likely to consume it before it's fully rehydrated - making it harder to digest.’
      • ‘Weary, famished and despairing at the end of 1846, the peasants of one of the most famine-ravaged counties in the country hoped for better things in the coming year.’


Middle English: from obsolete fame ‘starve, famish’, from Old French afamer, based on Latin fames hunger.