from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A drastic, wide-reaching food shortage.
  • n. A drastic shortage; a dearth.
  • n. Severe hunger; starvation.
  • n. Archaic Extreme appetite.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. extreme shortage of food in a region
  • n. a period of extreme shortage of food in a region
  • n. During times of famine

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. General scarcity of food; dearth; a want of provisions; destitution.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Scarcity or destitution of food; a general want of provision or supply; extreme dearth, threatening or resulting in starvation: often used by extension with reference to the want or scarcity of material things other than food, and, figuratively, of immaterial things.
  • n. Synonyms Dearth, etc. See scarcity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an acute insufficiency
  • n. a severe shortage of food (as through crop failure) resulting in violent hunger and starvation and death


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old French, from faim, hunger, from Latin famēs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French famine.


  • We have seen the effects of cotton famine, and I am sure matters would have come to a sad pass if we were to witness a _convict famine_, and to be compelled to open our workhouse gates to the starving families of our convict guardians.

    Six Years in the Prisons of England

  • On the occasion of a severe famine in Burgundy, she collected a band of her mendicant friends in a stable, and burned them all, saying that '_par pitié elle hauoit faict cela, considerant les peines que ces pauvres debuoient endurer en temps de si grande et tant estrange famine_.'

    Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland

  • "The emotive power of the word famine has been overused often, to try to develop a funding source for a problem that usually truly needed assistance, but was not really about famine," says Gary Eilerts, program manager at the U.S. Agency for International Development for the Famine Early Warning System Network, or FEWS NET, which is funded by USAID.

    The Challenge of Drawing the Line on a Famine

  • "As the numbers come out, the word famine really starts to move people and it starts to peak the interest of the international community and the average citizen in a way that a humanitarian crisis unfortunately does not always get people active and engaged," she said.

    Aid Groups Criticize US Response to East Africa Drought

  • When referee Alan Snoddy blew the final whistle at 4. 57pm that April day nine years ago suddenly the sun burst through, the title famine at last had ended. - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • Eizzy notes that the famine is the worst in the north and east, while those in the west are relatively safe from hunger.

    Global Voices in English » Uganda: Government Quiet as Famine Takes Toll

  • A partial dislocation of one side of the spine would produce a twist which would throw one muscle on to another and another, straining ligaments, producing conjestion and inflammation, or some irritation that would lead to a suspension of the fluids necessary to the harmonious vitality of the foot, which is the great and only cause by which the suffering is produced in a foreign land, which we call a famine in the foot.

    Philosophy of Osteopathy

  • The United Nations is careful about using the word famine, and in the past 20 years, only a few humanitarian emergencies have qualified, including in Sudan in 1998, Ethiopia in 2001 and Niger in 2005.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Aid agencies use the word "famine" with extreme caution, relying on a UN definition based on acute malnutrition among children under five reaching more than 30 per cent, and deaths from hunger reaching two people per 10,000.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • The word "famine" is a trigger for international assistance.

    NPR Topics: News


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  • Yup. I didn't mean a sin in the religious sense.

    December 19, 2008

  • More than a sin, reesetee. It's a crime. Compassionate conservatism my ass.

    December 19, 2008

  • Wow. That's a sin. Poor kids.

    December 19, 2008

  • DENVER -- A longtime mall Santa said he was shocked and saddened to hear kid's Christmas wishes included food for their family instead of toys.

    Rich Lopez has been playing Santa in Boulder for eight years.

    He told Denver TV station KMGH that he loves that job because he enjoys listening to kids talk about their Christmas wish list.

    "I'll get requests from girls for Barbie dolls or play sets," Lopez said. "Boys ask for Power Rangers or games."


    But he said several recent requests nearly brought tears to his eyes.

    "This year, for the first time, I had several kids ask for food. Food for their grandparents, food for their family," he said. "It just broke my heart."

    Aside his side Santa job, Lopez is chairman of the board of directors at The Denver Foundation, a community group dedicated to improving life in Denver through philanthropy and leadership.

    He asked the foundation to help. It responded, creating a to help replenish shelves at area food pantries.

    "The shelves are bare here," said Jeff Hirota, the foundation's vice president of programs. "The money and the food go out faster than we can keep up with it. It's just going to get harder through the winter."

    Hirota said The Denver Foundation wants to raise $500,000 to help combat hunger.

    "We're going to send that aid directly to front line and get it out to the most vulnerable in our community as fast as we can," Hirota said.

    Jon Holmer, of the Metro CareRing food shelf, said need has skyrocketed.

    "It's been through the roof in terms of increase. We've been seeing an increase since last February and March," said Holmer.

    December 19, 2008