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[fam-in] /ˈfæm ɪn/
extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a country or a large geographical area.
any extreme and general scarcity.
extreme hunger; starvation.
Origin of famine
1325-75; Middle English < Middle French, derivative of faim hunger (< Latin famēs); see -ine2
2. dearth, paucity, poverty, meagerness, scantness. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for famine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That morning a rumor had reached the village of a famine in the island of Crete.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • That was in case of an enemy or a famine when the people might be tempted to eat it.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • I could have pronounced him, alone, to be a young man aged by famine and sickness.

    The Uncommercial Traveller Charles Dickens
  • This is the usual result of feast after famine, and was to be expected.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • This famine was not a long one, but it was severe while it lasted.

    White Fang Jack London
British Dictionary definitions for famine


a severe shortage of food, as through crop failure or overpopulation
acute shortage of anything
violent hunger
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, via Vulgar Latin, from Latin famēs hunger
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for famine

mid-14c., from Old French famine "hunger" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *famina, from Latin fames "hunger, starvation, famine," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with famine


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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