Definition of hunger in US English:



  • 1A feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.

    ‘she was faint with hunger’
    • ‘If I had meat and vegetables and nothing else, it was easier to control, but if I had potatoes and desert, the hunger got stronger.’
    • ‘Mothers quickly learn to distinguish a cry of hunger from one of discomfort or frustration and respond appropriately.’
    • ‘They used questionnaires to assess hunger and the desire for different food types.’
    • ‘In these cases, a patient usually does not feel pain, hunger, or thirst.’
    • ‘He was in constant agony, a pain brought on by hunger and lack of energy.’
    • ‘Jane awakens again later in the afternoon, faint with hunger and still numb from emotion.’
    • ‘The hunger and cravings are now non-existent, though I do begin to go a bit crazy.’
    • ‘Hearty and filling, I came away from this part of the meal with my meat cravings satisfied, and my hunger stopped dead in its tracks.’
    • ‘It alters the circuitry in the brain that regulates hunger and cravings for alcohol and nicotine.’
    • ‘Such foods seem naturally to control hunger and appetite.’
    • ‘I was constantly confronted with my own weaknesses, my hunger, my low tolerance for pain.’
    • ‘Patients with dementia go walking for many reasons, including discomfort, hunger or pain.’
    • ‘Unlike hunger or temptation, cravings are typically a draw toward specific foods that are, in excess, bad for you.’
    • ‘John was almost faint from hunger, his feet throbbed and his legs burned, and he was exhausted.’
    • ‘His head was throbbing and he was faint from hunger.’
    • ‘So here we were, feeling faint with hunger, stomachs rumbling and no grub ready - and getting stiffer by the minute after our trek.’
    • ‘Food stimulation also resulted in increases in self-reports of hunger and desire for food.’
    • ‘Common symptoms of this are weakness, shaking, hunger and sweating.’
    • ‘Early signs and symptoms include sweating, shakiness, weakness, hunger, dizziness and nausea.’
    • ‘It all helped to keep energy levels up, and made everyone forget the pangs of hunger and thirst, for well over three hours.’
    lack of food, need for food, hungriness, ravenousness, emptiness
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    1. 1.1 A severe lack of food.
      ‘they died from cold and hunger’
      • ‘One result of this was occasional and localized food shortages so severe as to occasion hunger, starvation, and death.’
      • ‘Many thousands, possibly millions would die of cold and hunger.’
      • ‘Agricultural officials in West Africa say that if the current locust swarms worsen, up to one million people could face hunger.’
      • ‘He announced yesterday that almost 100 tonnes of food would have to be sourced to avert the threat of hunger in the affected areas.’
      • ‘Combined with the spectres of disease and hunger, the cold is expected to claim the lives of many who survived the initial earthquake.’
      • ‘We have enough resources in the country to look after our people in times of hunger and in times when they have plenty.’
      • ‘If orphaned cubs don't die of cold or hunger, they may be sold as pets or circus animals by hunters or poachers.’
      • ‘These camps face severe problems of hunger, disease as well as security.’
      • ‘What is required in the immediate is to save the lives of as many people as possible from hunger, thirst and epidemics.’
      • ‘Often they marched with bare feet, their stomachs aching with hunger.’
      • ‘Up to 3 million people are suffering from severe hunger while another 3 million have not got enough to eat.’
      • ‘In three weeks, 60,000 men were lost through cold, hunger and relentless attacks.’
      • ‘Death, from hunger, cold, and reduced resistance to illnesses, none of which could be treated, was commonplace in Leningrad.’
      • ‘As it is, way too many people are dying of hunger, dying of poverty, dying of disease, dying of bombs - all of which are preventable.’
      • ‘It is feared around 10,000 of them could perish from hunger, cold and disease in the next two weeks unless help arrives.’
      • ‘More than 3,000 Mongolian gazelles have died of hunger and cold weather since blizzards hit the region this winter.’
      • ‘Nearly half of this country's children are suffering from such severe hunger that their physical and mental development is being seriously retarded.’
      • ‘Each day 50,000 people die of hunger and preventable illnesses.’
      • ‘Otherwise, we're going to lose lots and lots of people dying of hunger.’
      • ‘In 1984, there were reports of surplus in the south while one million people died of hunger in the northeastern regions of the country.’
    2. 1.2 A strong desire or craving.
      ‘her hunger for knowledge’
      • ‘I once went to a car boot sale and marvelled at the greed and hunger of the bargain hunters, me included.’
      • ‘For the shopaholic, there's an endless search for objects to satisfy a sense of inner longing or hunger.’
      • ‘However, I feel the need for a change and a hunger for new influences.’
      • ‘The hunger is still there and the panel is very strong.’
      • ‘There was only one: the desire for vengeance, a hunger so strong that it had consumed his entire personality.’
      • ‘Have sensible people never felt the insatiable hunger of infatuation?’
      • ‘His point was that the kids from the under-advantaged neighborhoods have a stronger hunger.’
      • ‘It might not be ground-breaking but it sure sates the appetite that their hunger for great tunes has precipitated.’
      • ‘Throughout my life I've had a mad hunger for finding out things - for knowing things.’
      • ‘The hunger for food yes, but also the hunger to tell Chris what was in his heart.’
      • ‘The President fully understands people's hunger and thirst for justice.’
      • ‘Lending libraries are a boon for those who have a hunger for reading.’
      • ‘He still possesses the same hunger and childlike love of the game that has defined him throughout his illustrious career.’
      • ‘It's infused with desire and loss, impossible tenderness, insatiable hunger.’
      • ‘The unsatisfied hunger is an ache for things spiritual.’
      • ‘I personally think that hunger for change for change's sake is pretty infantile.’
      • ‘I'm very confident, the desire and hunger in the team is stronger than ever.’
      • ‘And you get this hunger for his company, even his friendship, entirely through the voice and the language.’
      • ‘It was a grudge match, one neither could bear to lose, but gathering up the enthusiasm and hunger for the final shouldn't be a problem.’
      desire, craving, longing, yearning, pining, hankering, thirst, appetite, lust, ache, want, need
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[no object]
  • 1hunger after/forHave a strong desire or craving for.

    ‘all actors hunger for such a role’
    • ‘Because, somehow, somewhere along the way, I stopped hungering for it.’
    • ‘But humanity hungers for a sense of right and wrong, for some absolute moral values.’
    • ‘He disbanded the group in 1982, hungering after a new direction and tired of the relentless pressure of his frontman role.’
    • ‘Maybe it is a symptom that we are hungering for something different.’
    • ‘Conspiracy is unnecessary when ideology hungers for power and its many adherents swarm of their own accord to the same pot of honey.’
    • ‘He hungers for a goodness that continually eludes him.’
    • ‘The game that the comrades disapproved of because of its un-Soviet focus on the individual is ideal for an emerging nation, which hungers for new sports and new stars.’
    • ‘It hungers for change and progress, and some comics who are clearly on their way up can be hampered slightly if their show treads a little water this year.’
    • ‘The consumer society hungers for the deviant and unexpected.’
    • ‘Aye, he was a kind and strong leader, but he hungered after adventure and ran after it with haste.’
    • ‘Participation is what we were denied, and what we hungered for.’
    • ‘It's not a spiritual experience anymore and that's what people hunger for.’
    • ‘Maybe it's just that I don't hunger for films the way I do for books.’
    • ‘Sure, I wander around checking out the talent, but there really is no one special I'm hungering for.’
    • ‘There are moments when it seems that a whole society, or the majority of a society is actually hungering for war.’
    • ‘The 18-year-old clearly loves playing up to the audience, as a performer she consistently hungers for attention.’
    • ‘It's ironic that this apotheosis of flash over substance comes at a time when the public is hungering for greater perspective and deeper understanding.’
    • ‘Republicans tend to assume that everyone hungers for more investment accounts to handle.’
    • ‘I looked over at Ethan, his eyes on me, a sudden flash of desire in his eyes, I knew he still hungered for me as my lips curled into a smile.’
    • ‘I've mentioned this before, but I am still hungering for an explanation.’
    desire, crave, have a craving for
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  • 2archaic Feel or suffer hunger through lack of food.

    • ‘How many hungered, sickened or died as a result?’
    • ‘By analogy, a mother does not love her child because it hungers and cries, even though its crying makes new demands upon her love.’
    • ‘Tell it to all those who hungered and thirsted and prayed and begged for help.’


Old English hungor (noun), hyngran (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch honger and German Hunger.