Definition of famish in English:



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

    ‘they had famished the city into surrender’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I was still wondering what famished them, since the reason for their leanness, and their skin's sad scurf, was not obvious yet.’
    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.
      • ‘The first few minutes were spent concentrating on the food, for the women were famished.’
      • ‘He was lying face down and looked famished and exhausted.’
      • ‘But when you're famished in subzero temperatures, you're likely to consume it before it's fully rehydrated - making it harder to digest.’
      • ‘They're sleep deprived, dehydrated, exhausted, and famished.’
      • ‘Jacob and his brother Esau were pretty tight-knit, until one day Esau returns from a long trip, famished.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Food riots broke out, and as unemployment reached 40 percent, famished angry people wandered the streets.’
      • ‘One day Esau returns from the countryside, exhausted and famished, to find his brother Jacob cooking a stew.’
      • ‘Sacrifices always lessened his appetite, but he had not eaten since morning, and he was considerably famished.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He looks famished and dishevelled and in no way gainfully employed.’
      • ‘Jordan said: ‘It looked famished and was a bit unsteady on its feet.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But even a day later, she is not so well - she is famished, utterly exhausted physically and emotionally.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was dreadful, because if people are famished and dying you have to do intensive feeding seven or eight times a day.’
      • ‘The rope dug into her flesh, her stomach, causing her to become further aware of how famished she was.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And some of them arrived in very bad states of malnutrition, also [suffering from] skin diseases and very, very famished and exhausted.’
      • ‘Trivedy said 5000 famished people had congregated next to a church in the coastal town of Nova Mambone.’


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