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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
late Middle English word dating back to 1375-1425; See origin at 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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for famished
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was simply a bare, gaunt, famished skeleton, slaying his way along.

    The Uncommercial Traveller Charles Dickens
  • That's well—and that ould Matthew is as obstinate a neger as ever famished his stomach.

  • These she produced likewise; and he ate and drank with the voracity of a famished hound.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • It seemed to Madame Francois that he was in far too famished a condition to have got drunk.

  • However, that was a slight affair, and Vance was far too famished to be particular.

    Prince Vance Eleanor Putnam
  • This, you may imagine, the famished Prince was only too glad to do.

    Prince Vance Eleanor Putnam
  • Oh, mother, the famine was sore, and he was kind to the famished people!

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
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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