[fast, fahst]
See more synonyms for fast on
verb (used without object)
  1. to abstain from all food.
  2. to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, especially as a religious observance.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to abstain entirely from or limit food; put on a fast: to fast a patient for a day before surgery.
  1. an abstinence from food, or a limiting of one's food, especially when voluntary and as a religious observance; fasting.
  2. a day or period of fasting.

Origin of fast

before 1000; Middle English fasten, Old English fæstan; cognate with German fasten, Gothic fastan, Old Norse fasta
Related formsun·fast·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for fasting

abstain, forbear, diet, refrain, starve, famish

Examples from the Web for fasting

Contemporary Examples of fasting

Historical Examples of fasting

  • In prayer and penance and fasting he would find help and consolation.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • But the results of his fasting were the reverse of his expectations.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • There's nothing but prayer and penance and fasting left to us, is there?

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • You will need strength and courage, and neither is possible to a fasting body.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

  • They had done penance enough, fasting and waiting and standing all day long.



British Dictionary definitions for fasting


  1. acting or moving or capable of acting or moving quickly; swift
  2. accomplished in or lasting a short timefast work; a fast visit
  3. (prenominal) adapted to or facilitating rapid movementthe fast lane of a motorway
  4. requiring rapidity of action or movementa fast sport
  5. (of a clock, etc) indicating a time in advance of the correct time
  6. given to an active dissipated life
  7. of or characteristic of such activitya fast life
  8. not easily moved; firmly fixed; secure
  9. firmly fastened, secured, or shut
  10. steadfast; constant (esp in the phrase fast friends)
  11. sport (of a playing surface, running track, etc) conducive to rapid speed, as of a ball used on it or of competitors playing or racing on it
  12. that will not fade or change colour readilya fast dye
    1. proof against fadingthe colour is fast to sunlight
    2. (in combination)washfast
  13. photog
    1. requiring a relatively short time of exposure to produce a given densitya fast film
    2. permitting a short exposure timea fast shutter
  14. cricket (of a bowler) characteristically delivering the ball rapidly
  15. informal glib or unreliable; deceptivea fast talker
  16. archaic sound; deepa fast sleep
  17. informal a deceptive or unscrupulous trick (esp in the phrase pull a fast one)
  18. fast worker a person who achieves results quickly, esp in seductions
  1. quickly; rapidly
  2. soundly; deeplyfast asleep
  3. firmly; tightly
  4. in quick succession
  5. in advance of the correct timemy watch is running fast
  6. in a reckless or dissipated way
  7. fast by or fast beside archaic close or hard by; very near
  8. play fast and loose informal to behave in an insincere or unreliable manner
  1. archery (said by the field captain to archers) stop shooting!

Word Origin for fast

Old English fæst strong, tight; related to Old High German festi firm, Old Norse fastr


  1. (intr) to abstain from eating all or certain foods or meals, esp as a religious observance
    1. an act or period of fasting
    2. (as modifier)a fast day
Derived Formsfaster, noun

Word Origin for fast

Old English fæstan; related to Old High German fastēn to fast, Gothic fastan
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 fasting



Old English fæst "firmly fixed, steadfast, secure, enclosed," probably from Proto-Germanic *fastuz (cf. Old Frisian fest, Old Norse fastr, Dutch vast, German fest), from PIE root *past- "firm" (cf. Sanskrit pastyam "dwelling place").

The adverb meaning "quickly, swiftly" was perhaps in Old English, or from Old Norse fast, either way developing from the sense of "firmly, strongly, vigorously" (cf. to run hard means to run fast; also compare fast asleep), or perhaps from the notion of a runner who "sticks" close to whatever he is chasing.

The sense of "living an unrestrained life" (usually of women) is from 1746 (fast living is from 1745). Fast buck recorded from 1947; fast food is first attested 1951. Fast-forward first recorded 1948. Fast lane is by 1966; the fast track originally was in horse-racing (1934); figurative sense by 1960s. To fast talk someone (v.) is recorded by 1946.



Old English fæstan "to fast" (as a religious duty), from Proto-Germanic *fastejan (cf. Old Frisian festia, Old High German fasten, German fasten, Old Norse fasta), from the same root as fast (adj.).

The original meaning was "hold firmly," and the sense evolution is via "firm control of oneself," to "holding to observance" (cf. Gothic fastan "to keep, observe," also "to fast"). Presumably the whole group is a Germanic translation of Medieval Latin observare "to fast." Related: Fasted; fasting.



Old English fæstan, festen, or Old Norse fasta; from the root of fast (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fasting


In addition to the idioms beginning with fast

  • fast and furious
  • fast and loose
  • fast buck
  • fast lane
  • fast track

also see:

  • get nowhere (fast)
  • hard and fast
  • pull a fast one
  • stand one's ground (fast)
  • thick and fast
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.