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From Middle English famisshe, from famen (starve), from Old French afamer, ultimately from Latin famēs (hunger). Compare affamish, famine. Cognate with Spanish hambre (hunger).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈfamɪʃ/
  • (file)


famish (third-person singular simple present famishes, present participle famishing, simple past and past participle famished)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To starve (to death); to kill or destroy with hunger.
  2. (transitive) To exhaust the strength or endurance of, by hunger; to cause to be very hungry.
  3. (transitive) To kill, or to cause great suffering to, by depriving or denying anything necessary.
  4. (transitive) To force, control, or constrain by famine.
  5. (intransitive) To die of hunger; to starve to death.
  6. (intransitive) To suffer extreme hunger or thirst, so as to be exhausted in strength, or to nearly perish.
  7. (intransitive) To suffer extremity from deprivation of anything essential or necessary.

Derived terms[edit]