[fam-in] /ˈfæm ɪn/
extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a country or a large geographical area.
any extreme and general scarcity.
extreme hunger; starvation.
Origin of famine
1325-75; Middle English < Middle French, derivative of faim hunger (< Latin famēs); see -ine2
2. dearth, paucity, poverty, meagerness, scantness. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for famine
  • Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery-famine and starvation.
  • But then if you closely examine the dates of the wave and the dates of the famine, you see that it is an insufficient explanation.
  • People keep scrapbooks and diaries more during wartime and after wartime, and famine and disease and fear.
  • famine set in, the social order broke down and looting was rampant.
  • It was the time of intense cold, of the bombardment, of epidemics and of famine.
  • The yellow pine of the south and the hardwoods are now following, and the famine in hickory is upon us.
  • Now, in a country long shadowed by famine, food has become plentiful and there are even signs of an obesity problem.
  • If the previous plant did not create famine, it's not clear why this one would.
  • Things that may slow or prevent the singularity economic collapse, devastating world wars, famine.
  • With no food or clean water and open wounds, the risk of famine and epidemic diseases was high.
British Dictionary definitions for famine


a severe shortage of food, as through crop failure or overpopulation
acute shortage of anything
violent hunger
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, via Vulgar Latin, from Latin famēs hunger
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for famine

mid-14c., from Old French famine "hunger" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *famina, from Latin fames "hunger, starvation, famine," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
famine in the Bible

The first mentioned in Scripture was so grievous as to compel Abraham to go down to the land of Egypt (Gen. 26:1). Another is mentioned as having occurred in the days of Isaac, causing him to go to Gerar (Gen. 26:1, 17). But the most remarkable of all was that which arose in Egypt in the days of Joseph, which lasted for seven years (Gen. 41-45). Famines were sent as an effect of God's anger against a guilty people (2 Kings 8:1, 2; Amos 8:11; Deut. 28:22-42; 2 Sam. 21:1; 2 Kings 6:25-28; 25:3; Jer. 14:15; 19:9; 42:17, etc.). A famine was predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:28). Josephus makes mention of the famine which occurred A.D. 45. Helena, queen of Adiabene, being at Jerusalem at that time, procured corn from Alexandria and figs from Cyprus for its poor inhabitants.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with famine


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for famine

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for famine

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with famine

Nearby words for famine