a sudden feeling of mental or emotional distress or longing: a pang of remorse; a pang of desire.
a sudden, brief, sharp pain or physical sensation; spasm: hunger pangs.

Origin of pang

First recorded in 1495–1505; origin uncertain

Synonyms for pang Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pangs

Contemporary Examples of pangs

Historical Examples of pangs

  • Their sighs make thee laugh, and their pangs are thy merriment!

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • He ignores honesty and conscience, and pangs of remorse are unknown to him.

  • He had slept and no longer felt the pangs of hunger, but was dizzy and confused.

  • He had felt hungry in the casemate, and the pangs of hunger had never since left him.

  • Pascal, who suffered the pangs of death because he was alone!

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for pangs



a sudden brief sharp feeling, as of loneliness, physical pain, or hunger

Word Origin for pang

C16: variant of earlier prange, of Germanic origin
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 pangs



1520s, "sudden physical pain," of unknown origin, perhaps related to prong (prongys of deth is recorded from mid-15c.). Reference to mental or emotional pain is from 1560s. Related: Pangs.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pangs in Medicine




A sudden sharp spasm of pain.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.