Definition of starve in English:


Pronunciation /stärv/ /stɑrv/

Translate starve into Spanish

intransitive verb

[no object]
  • 1(of a person or animal) suffer severely or die from hunger.

    ‘she left her animals to starve’
    • ‘seven million starved to death’
    • ‘Otherwise, we'd all have frozen and starved to death.’
    • ‘A prisoner has starved to death after fasting for seven months, becoming the 48th person to die in hunger strikes protesting against changes to Turkey's prison system.’
    • ‘There is no cause to regret the passing of that system - millions of peasants starved to death - and those who now point to the absence of school fees in that period are at any rate one-sided.’
    • ‘My great-grandfather and his 26 year old daughter had been executed; his 34 year old son had frozen and starved to death in the Arctic gold mines of Kolyma.’
    • ‘In 1869, a 12-year-old called Sarah Jacob starved to death in a Welsh farmhouse, under the eye of doctors and nurses who were watching her around the clock.’
    • ‘However by last weekend the inspectors had ruled out disease or environmental causes, heightening the speculation that the cattle starved to death over the long winter season.’
    • ‘‘But he had a beautiful nature and although he had nearly starved to death we felt he was recoverable,’ Ms Shields said.’
    • ‘Police believe they starved to death in Dutroux's dungeon when he went to jail for four months in December, 1995, for stealing a car.’
    • ‘His brother, meanwhile, had starved to death, trapped in his wheelchair in a mountain of trash and accessible only via a network of tunnels.’
    • ‘Firefighters were called in after fears grew that the black cats - who are yet to open their eyes - might have starved to death.’
    • ‘To date, three of Jasmuheen's followers have starved to death.’
    • ‘On that same day, Anna learned that, after being sent to Siberia by the Soviets, her parents had starved to death.’
    • ‘They would not give me a pinch of flour even if I starved to death.’
    • ‘Letters were piled up behind the door, but no food or drink was found in the flat and it is feared she may have starved to death after becoming too afraid to go outside.’
    • ‘Vets estimated the dog, which had ripped the house apart in its frantic search for food, starved to death over eight weeks.’
    • ‘While some were executed, others, malnourished and starving, were forced to carry out labour beyond their physical capabilities.’
    • ‘Of course, some Africans are starving and many are chronically poor, sick and hungry.’
    • ‘This explains why a car crash is more likely to be considered an event - and consequently to feature in the news - than the ongoing plight of people starving in Sudan.’
    1. 1.1with object Cause (a person or animal) to suffer severely or die from hunger.
      ‘for a while she had considered starving herself’
      • ‘If it is wrong to whip a dog or starve a horse or bait bears for sport or grossly abuse farm animals, it is wrong for all people in every place.’
      • ‘Then we have the so called pet lovers who starve the family pet dog till his skeletal bone structure protrudes through its limp flesh.’
      • ‘This is a regime that starves its own people so that it can do these things.’
      • ‘For example, if you starved a dog and chained it in the back yard for 6 months, you would be sentenced to an outdoor cage with as little food as you gave the dog.’
      • ‘Since you, his loving owner, have the power to either feed or starve your pet, your dog looks to you as its only supplier of food.’
      • ‘He was known as a skilful printer and darkroom operative, even though his sight was severely damaged after he was starved by his captors in the Second World War.’
      • ‘But we could starve the beast to death by ceasing to provide its main source of food: our money.’
      • ‘Yet it has emerged as an all-too-real example of how a dictator enriches himself and his family while starving his people.’
      • ‘There's still a person there and they're starving her.’
      • ‘Deliberately starving her would be a terrible thing.’
      • ‘And people were getting mad at her because they thought she was starving the child, and yet she was eating more than she had ever eaten in her life.’
      • ‘Some see another step towards the triumph of euthanasia - they stop at the idea of someone being starved against the wishes of her parents, and there's not another fact that matters.’
      • ‘He's starved them of food and equipment, and he brutally purges their officers with an almost banal regularity.’
      • ‘How many children were starved, prisoners tortured, families separated in the time it took for her to go from helpless baby to mother's helper?’
      • ‘Gulag prisoners were systemically starved, beaten, and forced to labor in sub-zero weather.’
      • ‘But what her parents say is we can't stand by as a loving mom and dad and watch her be starved or dehydrated to death.’
      • ‘It sounds, through the distribution of land and the distribution of food, like the government is trying to hold on to control and starve its enemies into submission.’
      • ‘The primary objective of this campaign is to starve terrorists of essential funding and technical support…’
      • ‘Sure, you deal crack on the side, you beat your wife, you starve your kids, but you're straight and you go to church, so we're here to save you.’
      • ‘I cannot trust a man who will starve children to death and think nothing of it.’
    2. 1.2be starving or starvedinformal Feel very hungry.
      • ‘I don't know about you, but I'm starving’
      • ‘It was getting near to midday and I was starving hungry.’
      • ‘I was ravenously starving all the time and I have nothing but admiration for people who manage this lifestyle.’
      • ‘Everyone was famished, desperate and starving.’
      • ‘She wished that when she opened her eyes, there would be a plate of steaming waffles next to her… because she was ravenously starving.’
      • ‘She was starving, the empty rumbling in her stomach was witness to that, and she hurt so bad she felt like vomiting.’
      • ‘After said party, back at the parents, Andy got really stroppy with me because I wasn't hungry even though he was starving.’
      • ‘He had not been starving; he had only been hungry.’
      • ‘And though I was starving a few minutes ago, I was not hungry anymore.’
      • ‘Aid agencies have rightly pointed out that many of the randomly dropped packages would have got lost, many would be destroyed on impact, and many eaten by people who were not starving.’
      ravenous, empty, hollow, faint from hunger
    3. 1.3starve someone out or intoForce someone out of a place or into a specified state by stopping supplies of food.
      ‘the Royalists were starved out after eleven days’
      • ‘German U-boats hoping to starve Britain into submission’
      • ‘‘Moral issues are our bread and butter and we will not be starved out of this activity by such misguided and poorly grounded legislation,’ said Father Norden.’
      • ‘Again, we could have blockaded and starved them out but that was not necessary.’
      • ‘What if Germany's U-boats had won the Battle of the Atlantic and starved Britain into submission?’
      • ‘Instead, the state tried to starve us out for our agricultural unorthodoxy, then they charged us with starvation.’
      • ‘More often than not we went hungry anyway, but then they attempted to starve us out.’
      • ‘‘We will root them out and starve them out,’ Rumsfeld said, just before closing a news conference with a ringing declaration: ‘We are determined not to be terrorized.’’
      • ‘The policy appears to be to ignore these people, starve them out, deny them healthcare and they will either die or go away.’
      • ‘Battling granny Dot Kelly, from Farnworth, today said that British Coal tried to ‘starve her out’ of her sit-in 1,800 ft. below ground at closure threatened Parkside pit.’
      • ‘They torched all buildings except the food stores so that the Romans could not say they were starved out.’
      • ‘There is some rumor of Federal supporters trying to block the rail lines into Manassas Junction and starving us out, but so far all it has been is rumor.’
      • ‘In 1896, the British had tried to quell Ndebele resistance in the Matopos by starving them out; Smith's army and police had tried something similar and for the same reasons.’
      • ‘Loggers should not drive indigenous cultures from the rainforest by ‘starving them out.’’
      • ‘Sparta's victory at Aegospotami and its control of the Hellespont starved Athens into surrender in April 404.’
      • ‘It is not going beyond the limits of prudent statement to say that at any rate it will take a long time to starve us out.’
      • ‘During the Great Siege of 1779-83, the garrison under General Elliott resisted all attempts to bombard or starve them out.’
      • ‘Many castles were very well defended and for some attacking armies, the only way to defeat them was to surround them and starve them out.’
      • ‘The Romans, in their turn, took to burning fields themselves, trying to starve Hannibal out, trying to weary his men.’
      • ‘Agha's troops had the Taliban forces surrounded and were intending to starve them into surrender.’
      • ‘If the accused would neither submit to trial nor abjure the realm after 40 days, he was starved into submission.’
    4. 1.4usually be starved of or forwith object Deprive of something necessary.
      ‘the arts are being starved of funds’
      • ‘Not a duff track among them, honestly, and the thing didn't even make it past 20 minutes, so naturally I was starved for more.’
      • ‘Wavell believed that he was being starved of the necessary reinforcements which he believed he needed and he resigned in February 1942.’
      • ‘Mullan speaks about his children with affection, something he was starved of by his own father, Charles.’
      • ‘University chiefs have warned that more than 100 arts and science departments are at risk of closure after being starved of research funds, writes Gareth Walsh.’
      • ‘Dentistry is perhaps an even better example - only when the NHS dentistry system was starved of funds did we see a major change to private treatment and insurance - and even there you actually had to pay to get most NHS treatment anyway.’
      • ‘The nuclear submarine lobby, known in the Navy as the ‘Black Mafia’, went ruthlessly for Trident, even though it might mean that the rest of the Navy was starved of funds.’
      • ‘Public infrastructure is starved of funds to justify Private Public Partnerships.’
      • ‘But it was the Indian scholars themselves making the fuss, expressing concern that research institutes back in Bharat were and are being starved of much-needed funds.’
      • ‘While the commission holds more meetings about capturing the narrative of Scottish life (whatever that means), artists are being starved of funds.’
      • ‘He argued that Mayo General Hospital was recognised by the Dept of Health and Children as the most efficient hospital in Europe and yet it was being starved of funds.’
      • ‘Overall, the performance may be slowly improving - but the improvements are being made by the people who deliver the services on the front line and they are now being starved of funds.’
      • ‘The fact is that, even as we engage in this desperate struggle to conserve a dying language, other parts of our culture, affecting far more people, are being starved of funds.’
      • ‘Now a bitter row is set to develop over claims that Hull Council is deliberately being starved of funds by Mr Prescott to punish the council's new Liberal Democrat rulers.’
      • ‘They were being starved of funds at a time when the private health system was being built up by the government.’
      • ‘The cost of this service is a dreadful waste of money which would have been better spent (as GPs advised) on local out-of-hours services which have been starved of funds while this system, driven by edict from London, was put in place.’
      • ‘He has been starved of funds to rebuild the team and undermined by claims that the club's chief executive, Chris Robinson, and other directors might prefer another man in charge.’
      • ‘But this is endemic, unfortunately, we're in a situation where council houses have been starved of funds for years.’
      • ‘There is no disagreement that councils have been starved of funds by successive governments.’
      • ‘The Nationals argue that regional universities would be starved of funds to provide services, and want the Government to give grants to ensure that sports or medical services don't have to be shut down.’
      • ‘I was starved for conversation and thrilled to have the company.’
  • 2archaic, dialect Be freezing cold.

    ‘pull down that window for we are perfectly starving here’
    • ‘[He'll] be obleeged to bring the shakedown near the keep her from starving with the cold.’


    starve the beast
    • Limit or reduce government expenditures by cutting taxes.

      ‘conservatives like to say their strategy of tax cuts all the time is designed to starve the beast’
      • ‘A real strategy of starving the beast is not politically feasible in today's world or anytime soon.’
      • ‘The other big piece of that strategy is the use of tax cuts to 'starve the beast.'’
      • ‘Most of our politicians cannot discipline themselves to spend other peoples' money wisely. Starve the beast!’
      • ‘In the next breath, sounding like a "starve the beast" conservative, she said she hoped the price of oil, the principal variable of state revenue, would not rise too much.’
      • ‘This is the kind of stuff that happens in the real world when "starve the beast" becomes the mantra of a powerful claque.’


Old English steorfan ‘to die’, of Germanic origin, probably from a base meaning ‘be rigid’ (compare with stare); related to Dutch sterven and German sterben.