Merriam-Webster’s Messing with Us

Word of the Day – Famish

Really Merriam-Webster?  As all these nice folks enter the challenging third week of resolution diets, you have to choose this as today’s word.  I have to admit, I see a sense of humor over there.

I love Word of the Day – the origins and less common meanings and uses are more random bits of knowledge with which to fill my head.  Sometimes it proves useful, sometimes not. Online dictionaries share pretty much only the name with those heavy old hardback counterparts. Now you get audio pronunciations, a thesaurus, videos, word games, examples, and yes, even definitions.  Plus, of course, that Word of the Day, right in your inbox.  Nice.

You can get check it out here.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 17, 2018 is: famish • \FAM-ish\ • verb 1 : to cause to suffer severely from hunger 2 : to suffer for lack of something necessary


1 : to cause to suffer severely from hunger

2 : to suffer for lack of something necessary

Did You Know?

Famish likely developed as an alteration of Middle English famen, meaning “to starve.” The Middle English word was borrowed from the Anglo-French verb afamer, which etymologists believe came from Vulgar Latin affamare. We say “believe” because, while no written evidence has yet been found for the Vulgar Latin word affamare, it would be the expected source for the Anglo-French verb based on the combination of the Latin prefix ad- (“to” or “toward”) and the root noun fames (“hunger”). In contemporary English, the verb famish is still used on occasion, but it is considerably less common than the related adjective famished, which usually means “hungry” or “starving” but can also mean “needy” or “being in want.”



“At first Bartleby did an extraordinary quantity of writing. As if long famishing for something to copy, he seemed to gorge himself on my documents. There was no pause for digestion.” — Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” 1853

“Eating healthy regularly is more important than famishing to shed a few pounds.” — Emily Long, The Daily Vidette: Illinois State University, 23 Aug. 2017

Source: famish