[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. family therapy,
  2. family tree,
  3. family values,
  4. family way,
  5. family-tree theory,
  6. famish,
  7. famished,
  8. famotidine,
  9. famous,
  10. famous last words

Origin of famine

1325–75; Middle English < Middle French, derivative of faim hunger (< Latin famēs); see -ine2

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for famine

British Dictionary definitions for famine


/ (ˈfæmɪn) /


a severe shortage of food, as through crop failure or overpopulation
acute shortage of anything
violent hunger

Word Origin for famine

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

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

Idioms and Phrases with famine


see feast or famine.

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