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Present participle of the obsolete verb raven "to prey".



ravening (comparative more ravening, superlative most ravening)

  1. Voracious and greedy.
    There is no shortage of ravening friends and relatives on the day one hits the lottery.
    • 1555, Richard Eden (translator), The Decades of the Newe Worlde or West India by Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, London: Edward Sutton, Decade 3, Book 5, p. 116,[1]
      They eate mans fleshe but seldome, bycause they meete not oftentymes with strangiers, except they goo foorth of theyr owne dominions with a mayne army of purpose to hunt for men, when theyr rauenynge appetite pricketh them forwarde.
    • c. 1594, William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene 2,[2]
      O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!
      Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
      Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
      Dove-feather’d raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Matthew 7:15,[3]
      Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
    • 1796, Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Prospect of a Regicide Peace, London: J. Owens, Letter I, p. 11,[4]
      [] then, when sunk on the down of usurped pomp, he shall have sufficiently indulged his meditations with what King he shall next glut his ravening maw []
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter 135,[5]
      “Heart of wrought steel!” murmured Starbuck gazing over the side, and following with his eyes the receding boat—“canst thou yet ring boldly to that sight?—lowering thy keel among ravening sharks, and followed by them, open-mouthed to the chase; and this the critical third day? []
  2. (archaic) Subject to the voracity of a predator.
    • 1567, John Studley (translator), Hippolytus in Thomas Newton (editor), Seneca his tenne tragedies, translated into Englysh, 1581, Act 2,[6]
      To be the strongers rauening pray the weaker did begin,
      And might went for oppressed right []
    • 1595, George Peele, The Old Wives’ Tale, The Malone Society Reprints, 1908, lines 678-679,[7]
      Away with him into the open fields, To be a rauening pray to Crowes and Kites:


ravening (plural ravenings)

  1. (archaic, literary) Predation (of an animal); voracious eating or consumption.
    • 1532, Robert Whittington (translator), A Lytell Booke of Good Maners for Chyldren by Desiderius Erasmus, London, “Of maners at table,”[8]
      Some rather deuoure than eate their meate non other wyse than suche as be ledde in to prison. This rauenyng and deuourynge is appropred to theues.
    • 1552, John Caius, A Boke, or Conseill against the Disease Commonly Called the Sweate, or Sweatyng Sicknesse, London, p. 34,[9]
      Consider whether the lusty person were in foretyme geuen to moche drynkyng, eatyng and rauenyng, tomoch ease, to no exercise or bathinges in his helth, or no.
    • 1567, John Maplet, A Greene Forest, London, “Of Libardbaine,”[10]
      Diascorides sayth, that this roote being stamped to poulder, and being bespiced or bestrewed vpon their meate, as flesh, and such other things wherwith they liue, destroyeth and killeth the Panther, the Libard, the Wolfe, and all other beastes, those especially which liue by rauening, and that whilst their meate so ordred is in their mouth.
    • 1943, Wilfrid Gibson, “The Floe” in The Searchlights, Oxford University Press,[11]
      [] with his shovel he had fed
      The roaring and insatiable red
      Ravening of the furnace []
  2. Eagerness for plunder; rapacity; extortion.
    • 1550, Thomas Cranmer, A Defence of the True and Catholike Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Bloud of our Sauiour Christ, London, Book 5, Chapter 8, p. 109,[12]
      We must kyll diuelish pryde, furious angre, insatiable couetousnes, filthy lucre, stinking lechery, deadly hatred & malice, foxy wilines, woluish rauening & deuouring, and al other vnreasonable lustes and desires of the fleshe.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Luke 11:39,[13]
      And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
    • 1714, Thomas Ellwood, The History of the Life of Thomas Ellwood, London: J. Sowle, p. 186,[14]
      Thus lived this lazy Drone upon the Labours of the Industrious Bees; to his high Content, and their no small Trouble: to whom his Company was as Offensive, as his Ravening was Oppressive: nor could they get any Relief, by their complaining of him to the Keepers.