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See more synonyms for famine on Thesaurus.com
  1. extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a country or a large geographical area.
  2. any extreme and general scarcity.
  3. extreme hunger; starvation.
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Origin of famine

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

Synonyms for famine

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for famine

drought, starvation, poverty, scarcity, misery, paucity, destitution, want, dearth

Examples from the Web for famine

Contemporary Examples of famine

Historical Examples of famine

  • 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.

  • This is the usual result of feast after famine, and was to be expected.

  • In the worst pinches of the famine he stole back to the fires of the gods.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for famine


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with famine


see feast or famine.

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