English edit

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Etymology edit

From Middle English sterven, from Old English steorfan (to die), from Proto-Germanic *sterbaną (to become stiff, die), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)terp- (to lose strength, become numb, be motionless); or from Proto-Indo-European *sterbʰ- (to become stiff), from *ster- (stiff); or a conflation of the aforementioned. Cognate with Scots sterve (to die, perish), Saterland Frisian stjerwa (to die), West Frisian stjerre (to die), Dutch sterven (to die), German Low German starven (to die), German sterben (to die), Icelandic stirfinn (peevish, froward), Albanian shterp (sterile, unproductive, barren land).

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

starve (third-person singular simple present starves, present participle starving, simple past starved, past participle starved or (obsolete) starven)

  1. (intransitive) To die because of lack of food or of not eating.
    • 1990, Chen Yizi (陳一諮), quotee, Children of the Dragon: The Story of Tiananmen Square[1], →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 48:
      During the Cultural Revolution I was exiled to Xincai County in Henan Province. There, 36 percent of the people starved to death in the early 1960s.
    • 2007, Lisa Wingate, A Thousand Voices, page 76:
      "When all of you starve to death, Shasta, don't come crying to me, that's all."
  2. (intransitive) To be very hungry.
    Hey, ma, I'm starving! What's for dinner?
  3. (transitive) To destroy, make capitulate or at least make suffer by deprivation, notably of food.
    Synonym: famish
  4. (transitive) To deprive of nourishment or of some vital component.
    The uncaring parents starved the child of love.
    'The patient's brain was starved of oxygen.
  5. (intransitive) To deteriorate for want of any essential thing.
  6. (transitive, Britain, especially Yorkshire and Lancashire) To kill with cold; to (cause to) die from cold.
    I was half starved waiting out in that wind.
    • 1869 February, John Hartley, The original illuminated clock almanack:
      Wheniver he wor starved, he used to get th' seck o' coils ov his back, an' walk raand th' haase till he gat warm agean.
    • 1886, A Queer Supper, John Heywood, section 8:
      One i' th' morning an' me starv'd to th' death wi' waitin' up.
    • 1898, J. Arthur Gibbs, “When the May-Fly is Up”, in A Cotswold village; or, Country Life & Pursuits in Gloucestershire, London: John Murray, →OCLC, page 164:
      Sometimes he remarks, “ ’Tis these dreadful frostis that spiles everything. ’Tis enough to sterve anybody.”
  7. (intransitive, obsolete) To die; in later use especially to die slowly, waste away.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book IV, Canto I”, in The Faerie Queene. [], part II (books IV–VI), London: [] [Richard Field] for William Ponsonby, →OCLC, stanza 4, page 6:
      Seuen moneths he ſo her kept in bitter ſmart, / Becauſe his ſinfull luſt ſhe would not ſerue, / Vntill ſuch time as noble Britomart / Releaſed her, that elſe was like to ſterue / Through cruell knife that her deare heart did kerue.

Conjugation edit

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