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[stahrv] /stɑrv/
verb (used without object), starved, starving.
to die or perish from lack of food or nourishment.
to be in the process of perishing or suffering severely from hunger.
to suffer from extreme poverty and need.
to feel a strong need or desire:
The child was starving for affection.
Chiefly British Dialect. to perish or suffer extremely from cold.
Obsolete. to die.
verb (used with object), starved, starving.
to cause to starve; kill, weaken, or reduce by lack of food.
to subdue, or force to some condition or action, by hunger:
to starve a besieged garrison into a surrender.
to cause to suffer for lack of something needed or craved.
Chiefly British Dialect. to cause to perish, or to suffer extremely, from cold.
before 1000; Middle English sterven, Old English steorfan to die; cognate with German sterben
Related forms
half-starved, adjective
half-starving, adjective
self-starved, adjective
unstarved, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for half-starving


to die or cause to die from lack of food
to deprive (a person or animal) or (of a person, etc) to be deprived of food
(intransitive) (informal) to be very hungry
foll by of or for. to deprive or be deprived (of something necessary), esp so as to cause suffering or malfunctioning the engine was starved of fuel
(transitive) foll by into. to bring (to) a specified condition by starving to starve someone into submission
(archaic) to be or cause to be extremely cold
Derived Forms
starver, noun
Word Origin
Old English steorfan to die; related to Old Frisian sterva to die, Old High German sterban to die
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
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Word Origin and History for half-starving
O.E. steorfan "to die" (pt. stearf, pp. storfen), from P.Gmc. *sterban "be stiff" (cf. O.Fris. sterva, Du. sterven, O.H.G. sterban "to die," O.N. stjarfi "tetanus"), from PIE base *ster- "stiff, rigid" (cf. Gk. sterphnios "stiff, rigid," sterphos "hide, skin," O.C.S. strublu "strong, hard;" see stare). The conjugation became weak in Eng. by 16c. The sense narrowed to "die of cold" (14c.); meaning "to kill with hunger" is first recorded 1530 (earlier to starve of hunger, 1124). Intrans. sense of "to die of hunger" dates from 1578. Ger. cognate sterben retains the original sense of the word, but the Eng. has come so far from its origins that starve to death (1910) is now common. Starvation (1778) is a hybrid, with a L. ending, apparently first used in ref. to British policies toward rebellious New England colonies.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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half-starving in Medicine

starve (stärv)
v. starved, starv·ing, starves

  1. To suffer or die from extreme or prolonged lack of food.

  2. To deprive of food so as to cause suffering or death.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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