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[fam-isht] /ˈfæm ɪʃt/
extremely hungry:
to be famished after a hike; famished, homeless multitudes.
Origin of famished
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English; see famish, -ed2
Related forms
half-famished, adjective


[fam-ish] /ˈfæm ɪʃ/
verb (used with or without object), Archaic.
to suffer or cause to suffer extreme hunger; starve.
to starve to death.
1350-1400; Middle English famisshe, equivalent to famen to starve (< Anglo-French, Middle French afamer < Vulgar Latin *affamāre, equivalent to Latin af- af- + famāre, derivative of famēs hunger) + -isshe -ish2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for famished
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The famished child gave a little cry and reached both hands.

    A Girl Of The Limberlost Gene Stratton Porter
  • Black Donald seized them as a famished wolf might seize his prey.

    Capitola's Peril Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth
  • Seven more days of marching, with hungry stomachs and famished horses and then, Moscow!

    The Boy with the U. S. Weather Men Francis William Rolt-Wheeler
  • The best way to disperse the famished people is with food, not force.

    The Cycle of Spring Rabindranath Tagore
  • Some distance off an outcast horse was attacked by thousands of famished crows.

    Alone with the Hairy Ainu A. H. Savage Landor
  • Then the famished creatures attacked the bodies of their comrades.

    The Camp in the Snow William Murray Graydon
  • One reads of famished wretches who have tried to nourish life from the current of their own veins.

    Vassall Morton Francis Parkman
British Dictionary definitions for famished


(now usually passive) to be or make very hungry or weak
(archaic) to die or cause to die from starvation
(Irish) to make very cold: I was famished with the cold
Derived Forms
famishment, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French afamer, via Vulgar Latin, from Latin famēsfamine
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 famished



c.1400, famyschen, alteration of famen (late 14c.), a shortening of Old French afamer, from Vulgar Latin *affamare "to bring to hunger," from ad famem, from Latin fames "hunger" (see famine).

Ending changed mid-14c. to -ish under influence of ravish, anguish, etc. The intransitive sense is from 1520s. Related: Famished; famishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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