verb (used with or without object), clemmed, clem·ming. British Dialect.

to starve.

Origin of clem

1530–40; akin to Middle English forclemmed (past participle) pinched with hunger, Old English beclemman to fetter Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clemming

Historical Examples of clemming

  • Even the middle classes suffered, and the poor could only meet such trouble by 'clemming' or self-starvation.

    Victorian Worthies

    George Henry Blore

  • Now clemming is a quiet death, and worrying isn't, so I choose clemming, and come into th' Union.

    Mary Barton

    Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

  • In 1888, Punch, in "Cramming versus 'Clemming'" emphasizes the need of providing free meals for poor children.

  • Father were stunned wi' the blow at first, for all Boucher were weak wi' passion and wi' clemming.

    North and South

    Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

British Dictionary definitions for clemming



verb clems, clemming, clemmed, clams, clamming or clammed

(when tr, usually passive) English dialect to be hungry or cause to be hungry

Word Origin for clem

C16: of Germanic origin; related to Dutch, German klemmen to pinch, cramp; compare Old English beclemman to shut in
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