[stahr-vey-shuh n]
See more synonyms for starvation on
  1. liable or seeming to cause starving: a starvation diet.

Origin of starvation

First recorded in 1770–80; starve + -ation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for starvation

famine, deprivation, malnutrition, need, want, inanition

Examples from the Web for starvation

Contemporary Examples of starvation

Historical Examples of starvation

  • But the short of it is, Henry found himself facing work or starvation.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Exclusion was to me starvation, and I eagerly adopted the counsel of my companion.

  • She saw it was reasonable: what fellowship can light have with darkness, or love with starvation?

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • It was pure kindness, for he would have died slowly otherwise of starvation.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • Your costume may save us from starvation if we run short of cash.

British Dictionary definitions for starvation


    1. the act or an instance of starving or state of being starved
    2. (as modifier)a starvation diet; starvation wages
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 starvation

1778, noun of action from starve. Famously introduced in English by Henry Dundas during debate in the House of Commons in 1775 on American affairs. It earned him the nickname "Starvation Dundas," though sources disagree on whether this was given in objection to the harshness of his suggestion of starving the rebels into submission or in derision at the barbarous formation of the word. It is one of the earliest instances of -ation used with a native Germanic word.

As to Lord Chatham, the victories, conquests, extension of our empire within these last five years, will annihilate his fame of course, and he may be replaced by Starvation Dundas, whose pious policy suggested that the devil of rebellion could be expelled only by fasting, though that never drove him out of Scotland. [Horace Walpole, letter to the Rev. William Mason, April 25, 1781]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

starvation in Medicine


  1. The act or process of starving.
  2. The condition of being starved.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.