When a person or an animal dies from a lack of food, we say that person or animal "starved" to death. Starvation is a serious issue in countries all around the world, especially for children:

  • A little boy starved to death because of a widespread famine. (This sentence uses "starve" as a verb.)
  • There are starving people in the Horn of Africa. (This sentence uses "starving" as an adjective.)
  • The cattle died of starvation because they couldn’t find enough (grass) to eat. (The word "starvation" is a noun.)

Sometimes the word "starve" is used when a person is really hungry but not on the verge of death:

  • The kids say they’re starving.
  • Let’s get something to eat. I’m starving.
  • Bob says he’s going to starve to death if he doesn’t get something to eat soon.

There are a few other ways to use this word:

  • The cat is starving for attention. (The cat wants people to pet her.)
  • Charles is on a starvation diet. (He’s not eating very much in order to lose weight.)
  • After years of work as a starving artist, Rachel is now quite successful in selling her paintings. (A starting artist is a person who works as an artist but makes very little money.)

famine: a situation in which food is not available and people die as a result. Famines usually affect large geographical areas.

on the verge: this is an idiom that means something is about to happen. It’s similar to the word "almost."

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This page was first published on April 21, 2012. It was updated on February 28, 2015.