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

  • intransitive v. To suffer or die from extreme or prolonged lack of food.
  • intransitive v. Informal To be hungry.
  • intransitive v. To suffer from deprivation.
  • intransitive v. Archaic To suffer or die from cold.
  • transitive v. To cause to starve.
  • transitive v. To force to a specified state by starving.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To die; in later use especially to die slowly, waste away.
  • v. To die because of lack of food or of not eating.
  • v. To be very hungry.
  • v. To destroy, make capitulate or at least make suffer by deprivation, notably of food
  • v. To deprive of nourishment.
  • v. To kill with cold.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To die; to perish.
  • intransitive v. To perish with hunger; to suffer extreme hunger or want; to be very indigent.
  • intransitive v. To perish or die with cold.
  • transitive v. To destroy with cold.
  • transitive v. To kill with hunger.
  • transitive v. To distress or subdue by famine.
  • transitive v. To destroy by want of any kind.
  • transitive v. To deprive of force or vigor; to disable.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To die; perish.
  • Specifically To perish from lack of food or nourishment; die of hunger; also, to suffer from lack of food; pine with hunger; famish; suffer extreme poverty.
  • To perish with cold; die from cold or exposure; suffer from cold.
  • To suffer for lack of anything that is needed or much desired; suffer mental or spiritual want; pine.
  • To cause to perish with hunger; afflict or distress with hunger; famish; hence, to kill, subdue, or bring to terms by withholding food or by the cutting off of supplies: as, to starve a garrison into surrender.
  • To cause to perish with cold; distress or affect severely with cold; benumb utterly; chill.
  • To cause to perish through lack of any kind; deprive of life, vigor, or force through want; exhaust; stunt.

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

  • v. have a craving, appetite, or great desire for
  • v. be hungry; go without food
  • v. die of food deprivation
  • v. deprive of food
  • v. deprive of a necessity and cause suffering


Middle English sterven, to die, from Old English steorfan; see ster-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sterven, from Old English steorfan. Cognate with Low German staarven, Dutch sterven, German sterben, Albanian shterp ("sterile, unproductive, barren land"). (Wiktionary)



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