extremely hungry: to be famished after a hike; famished, homeless multitudes.

Origin of famished

late Middle English word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at famish, -ed2
Related formshalf-fam·ished, adjective

Synonyms for famished

See hungry.



verb (used with or without object) Archaic.

to suffer or cause to suffer extreme hunger; starve.
to starve to death.

Origin of famish

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

Related Words for famished

empty, hollow, ravening, hungry, ravenous, voracious

Examples from the Web for famished

Contemporary Examples of famished

Historical Examples of famished

  • It was simply a bare, gaunt, famished skeleton, slaying his way along.

  • 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

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 coldI was famished with the cold
Derived Formsfamishment, noun

Word Origin for famish

C14: from Old French afamer, via Vulgar Latin, from Latin famēs famine
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 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