Definition of starve in English:

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Pronunciation: /stɑːv/


1Suffer or die or cause to suffer or die from hunger: [no object]: she left her animals to starve seven million starved to death (as adjective starving) the world’s starving children [with object]: for a while she had considered starving herself
More example sentences
  • Otherwise, we'd all have frozen and starved to death.
  • A prisoner has starved to death after fasting for seven months, becoming the 48th person to die in hunger strikes protesting against changes to Turkey's prison system.
  • There is no cause to regret the passing of that system - millions of peasants starved to death - and those who now point to the absence of school fees in that period are at any rate one-sided.
dying of hunger, dying from lack of food, faint from lack of food, deprived of food, undernourished, malnourished, starved, half-starved, unfed;
very hungry, ravenous, famished, empty, hollow;
(be starving) be hungry
informal could eat a horse
1.1 (be starving or starved) informal Feel very hungry: I don’t know about you, but I’m starving
More example sentences
  • It was getting near to midday and I was starving hungry.
  • I was ravenously starving all the time and I have nothing but admiration for people who manage this lifestyle.
  • Everyone was famished, desperate and starving.
1.2 [with object] (starve someone out or into) Force someone out of (a place) or into (a specified state) by starvation: the Royalists were starved out after eleven days German U-boats hoping to starve Britain into submission
More example sentences
  • ‘Moral issues are our bread and butter and we will not be starved out of this activity by such misguided and poorly grounded legislation,’ said Father Norden.
  • Again, we could have blockaded and starved them out but that was not necessary.
  • What if Germany's U-boats had won the Battle of the Atlantic and starved Britain into submission?
1.3 [with object] (usually be starved of or US for) Deprive of something necessary: the arts are being starved of funds
More example sentences
  • Not a duff track among them, honestly, and the thing didn't even make it past 20 minutes, so naturally I was starved for more.
  • Wavell believed that he was being starved of the necessary reinforcements which he believed he needed and he resigned in February 1942.
  • Mullan speaks about his children with affection, something he was starved of by his own father, Charles.
2 [no object] archaic or dialect Be freezing cold: pull down that window for we are perfectly starving here
More example sentences
  • [He'll] be obleeged to bring the shakedown near the keep her from starving with the cold.


starve the beast

Limit or reduce government expenditure by cutting taxes: conservatives like to say their strategy of tax cuts all the time is designed to starve the beast
More example sentences
  • A real strategy of starving the beast is not politically feasible in today's world or anytime soon.
  • The other big piece of that strategy is the use of tax cuts to 'starve the beast.'
  • Most of our politicians cannot discipline themselves to spend other peoples' money wisely. Starve the beast!


Old English steorfan 'to die', of Germanic origin, probably from a base meaning 'be rigid' (compare with stare); related to Dutch sterven and German sterben.

  • In Anglo-Saxon times starve simply meant ‘to die’, especially a lingering death from hunger, cold, disease, or grief. People continued to use the word in this way for many centuries, and in northern English dialect starve can still mean ‘to die of cold’. The origin of the word is probably an ancient Germanic base that meant ‘to be rigid’. This rigid/dead connection is preserved in the modern slang use of stiff to refer to a dead body.

Words that rhyme with starve

Algarve, calve, carve, grave, Graves, halve, Slav, suave, Zouave

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: starve

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