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From Middle English thirst, thurst, from Old English þurst, from Proto-West Germanic *þurstu, from Proto-Germanic *þurstuz, from Proto-Indo-European *ters- (dry).

Germanic cognates include Old High German thurst, Middle High German durst, German Durst, Old Saxon thurst, Old Dutch thursti, Middle Dutch dorst, dorste, Dutch dorst, Old Norse þorsti (Swedish törst, Icelandic þorsti, Danish tørst, Norwegian tørst). Indo-European cognates include Ancient Greek τέρσομαι (térsomai), Albanian djersë (sweat), Sanskrit तृष्णा (tṛṣṇā, desire; thirst), Sanskrit तृष्यति (tṛ́ṣyati), Latin terra, Latin torridus.



thirst (countable and uncountable, plural thirsts)

  1. A sensation of dryness in the throat associated with a craving for liquids, produced by deprivation of drink, or by some other cause (such as fear, excitement, etc.) which stops the secretion of the pharyngeal mucous membrane.
    We developed quite a thirst during our hike.
    He had quite a thirst on and so headed to his favourite Dublin pub.
  2. The condition producing the sensation of thirst.
    If you go out in the desert for long without water, the thirst can drive you mad.
    • 1918 September–November, Edgar Rice Burroughs, “The Land That Time Forgot”, in The Blue Book Magazine, Chicago, Ill.: Story-press Corp., →OCLC; republished as chapter IV, in Hugo Gernsback, editor, Amazing Stories, (please specify |part=I, II, or III), New York, N.Y.: Experimenter Publishing, 1927, →OCLC:
      "We haven't one chance for life in a hundred thousand if we don't find food and water upon Caprona. This water coming out of the cliff is not salt; but neither is it fit to drink, though each of us has drunk. It is fair to assume that inland the river is fed by pure streams, that there are fruits and herbs and game. Shall we lie out here and die of thirst and starvation with a land of plenty possibly only a few hundred yards away? We have the means for navigating a subterranean river. Are we too cowardly to utilize this means?"
  3. (figurative) A want and eager desire (for something); a craving or longing.
    She had a real thirst for news and that greatly helped her career.
  4. (figurative) Sexual lust.
    He had a thirst for her and she had the same for him.


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thirst (third-person singular simple present thirsts, present participle thirsting, simple past and past participle thirsted)

  1. (intransitive) To be thirsty.
  2. (intransitive, usually followed by "for") To desire vehemently.
    I thirst for knowledge and education will sate me.
    to be thirsted for one's blood


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