Middle English famisshe, from famen (“starve”), from Old French afamer. Compare affamish, famine.
famish (third-person singular simple present famishes, present participle famishing, simple past and past participle famished)
- (obsolete, transitive) To starve (to death); to kill or destroy with hunger.
- 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, I.iv.1:
- Even so did Corellius Rufus, another grave senator, by the relation of Plinius Secundus, Epist. lib. 1, epist. 12, famish himself to death [...].
- (transitive) To exhaust the strength or endurance of, by hunger; to distress with hunger.
- And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. -- Gen. xli. 55.
- The pains of famished Tantalus he'll feel. --Dryden.
- (transitive) To kill, or to cause to suffer extremity, by deprivation or denial of anything necessary.
- And famish him of breath, if not of bread. -- Milton.
- (transitive) To force or constrain by famine.
- He had famished Paris into a surrender. -- Burke.
- (intransitive) To die of hunger; to starve.
- (intransitive) To suffer extreme hunger or thirst, so as to be exhausted in strength, or to come near to perish.
- You are all resolved rather to die than to famish? -- Shakespeare
- (intransitive) To suffer extremity from deprivation of anything essential or necessary.
- The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish. -- Prov. x. 3.