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Middle English famisshe, from famen (starve), from Old French afamer. Compare affamish, famine.



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 distress with hunger.
    • And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. -- Gen. xli. 55.
    • The pains of famished Tantalus he'll feel. --Dryden.
  3. (transitive) To kill, or to cause to suffer extremity, by deprivation or denial of anything necessary.
    • And famish him of breath, if not of bread. -- Milton.
  4. (transitive) To force or constrain by famine.
    • He had famished Paris into a surrender. -- Burke.
  5. (intransitive) To die of hunger; to starve.
  6. (intransitive) To suffer extreme hunger or thirst, so as to be exhausted in strength, or to come near to perish.
    • You are all resolved rather to die than to famish? -- Shakespeare
  7. (intransitive) To suffer extremity from deprivation of anything essential or necessary.
    • The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish. -- Prov. x. 3.