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Definition of famine:

  • (noun) an acute insufficiency
  • (noun) a severe shortage of food (as through crop failure) resulting in violent hunger and starvation and death

Sentence Examples:

It was towards dark that I was suddenly recalled to famine by a cold souse of rain, and sprang shivering to my feet.

The desire of the nation was to be gratified; the rains were falling, the cisterns and reservoirs were filling, and the fields once more would soon rejoice in their wonted beauty, and the famine would soon be at an end.

When the water rises to a sufficient height, it indicates a year of fertility and plenty in Egypt; but when it does not overflow, nothing is sown, and sterility and famine are the consequences.

Imagination is baffled when it tries to appreciate the vast multiplicity of commodities which must enter to-morrow through the barriers in order to preserve the inhabitants from falling a prey to the convulsions of famine, rebellion, and pillage.

It is true, however, that among these children one sees few signs of undernourishment or famine, and in general throughout the city the children seem much better nourished than the adult population.

There was the time of the Great Famine, when the old men crouched empty-bellied to the fire, and let fall from their lips dim traditions of the ancient day when the Yukon ran wide open for three winters, and then lay frozen for three summers.

The poorer classes, seeing themselves, as they believed, threatened with famine, rose in riotous crowds, in some places attacking the barns in which the corn was stored, and threatening destruction to both the storehouses and the owners.

And as a part of the permanent famine relief system for future emergencies, the board of public works has laid out a scheme of roads and the department of agriculture a system of irrigation upon which the unemployed labor can be mobilized at short notice, and funds have been set apart for the payment of their wages.

The fact that a famine exists in one part of the country, it must also be considered, is no evidence that the remainder of the empire is not abounding in prosperity, and every table of statistics dealing with the material conditions of the country shows that famine and plague have in no manner impeded their progress.

The best that we have been able to do for it so far has been to provide for it the safety valves of beggary, destitution, famine, pestilence, crime, imprisonment and the gallows.

He abolished drinking-bouts, and decreed that no drink should be prepared from gram, thinking that the bitter famine should be got rid of by prohibiting needless drinking, and that plentiful food could be levied as a loan on thirst.

Whether it was that the soil had too little rain, or that it was too hard baked, the crops, as I have said, were slack, and the fields gave but little produce; so that the land lacked victual, and was worn with a weary famine.

Scourges, afflictions, and depredations by fire, famine, and the tyrant's hand he besought them to regard as marks of Heaven's especial favor.

Recently a caterpillar famine began to make itself felt in the parts of the garden near the house, and the enthusiasm of the collectors evaporated at the prospect of searching farther afield.

The corrupting of this memory "is the impoverishment that threatens our posterity;" and this "new famine, a meager fiend, with lewd grin and clumsy hoof, is breathing a moral mildew over the harvest of our human sentiments."

In the time of the Saxons a crop of acorns often formed a part of the dowry bestowed upon the Saxon queens, and the king himself would be glad to accept a gift or grant of acorns; and the failure of the crop would be considered as a kind of famine.

The consequence of this was, that, on the succeeding market days, no corn came to market, and detachments of dragoons are obliged to scour the country to preserve us from a famine.

Great public subscriptions to the sufferers from great disasters, such as the Irish and the Indian famines, the Chicago fire, the Galveston flood, the San Francisco earthquake, the great European war, bespeak a widening generosity.

In consequence of this order, all the causeways were full for three days and nights, of weak, sickly, and squalid wretches, men, women, and children, covered with filth, worn out by famine and disease, so that the sight was shocking in the extreme.

I was about fourteen years old when the convent of Saint-Louis fell into great poverty owing to a famine which was desolating France, and the disaffection of the nuns was centered on me as a chief cause of unnecessary expense.

The president answered that if one having been admitted to their community committed sins deserving of death, he was cast out and often perished by a most wretched fate, for being bound by oath and customs he could not even receive food from others but must eat grass, and with his body worn by famine he perishes.

What matter that the hoarfrost and famine would banish us from your side and drive us far away to more fruitful lands?

The entire tract of country, however, was utterly depopulated; war and its attendant evils, disease and famine, had exterminated the inhabitants.

"Why do not the Portuguese devote themselves so largely to the cultivation of grain that there need never be danger of famine?"

The Demon of Famine, who, should the waters fail of their inundation, or not reach the elevation indicated by the position of the transverse beam upon the upright, would reign in all his horrors over their desolated lands.

This conduct was the more reprehensible as it was plain that we were suffering even in a greater degree than themselves from the effects of famine, owing to our being of a less robust habit and less accustomed to privations.

We made up our stock to twenty-six but several of them were putrid and scarcely eatable, even by men suffering the extremity of famine.

Their hair long and neglected, their garments decayed, their countenance pale and weather-worn, and their persons emaciated by famine and fatigue, scarcely raised the attention of the friends they had encountered.

Among genre pictures, we halted before one representing a peasant family grouped about the mother, who, with a sacred picture laid upon her breast, after the Russian manner, was dying of famine.

Hunt feared that he might be several days in passing through this mountain defile, and run the risk of famine, he encamped in the neighborhood of the Indians, for the purpose of bartering with them for a horse.

This, I confess, I thought, and still think, a sensible proposal, as, in the first burst of a famine it is very desirable, till trade operations from a distance get under weigh, that local supplies should exist, but, after some discussion, I found that the proposal met with such small approval, that I did not think of putting it to the meeting.

An enemy, distressed by famine, may be driven by his necessities to pay a famine price; but it does not follow that the belligerent, in the exercise of his rights of war, is to pay the price of distress

Half a century ago, when proselytism was in full swing in a country weakened by famine, Protestants were sanguine on this point.

Another reason was that male children were saved often when females were killed in the practice of infanticide, also forced by famine.

What the Irish public thought about the impending famine, and what they said about it was, that the oat crop was unusually fine and more than sufficient to feed the whole population, and that it should be kept in the country for that purpose.

Instead of taxing one species of property, namely land, to meet the Famine, the whole property of the country should have been taxed for that purpose; and this partiality was justly complained of by the landed interests.

Famine was at the door of the Irish nation, and its progress was not to be stayed by invectives against our failings, or by moral lectures upon the improvement of our habits.

It was at this meeting O'Connell first brought forward his plan for dealing with the impending famine, a plan which met with no favor from those in power, there not having been a single suggestion put forward in it which was taken up by them.

The pits, without one single exception in a state of serious decay, and many of the islanders apprehending famine in consequence.

The people had been decimated by three years of famine: and no want could be more appalling than the want of food.

The tenantry, so cruelly rack-rented and impoverished, were reduced by two or three bad seasons to a state bordering upon famine.

I was afraid to let the horror produced by our first meeting at close quarters after the dreadful changes that wet, cold, and famine had produced, last one moment longer than could be helped; so, without giving time for any more questions and answers, I commanded the men to lay the two boats close alongside of each other.

He stated that, in consequence of former misrule, and owing to the ravages of famine in 1785, and other past seasons, or to the habits induced by years of petty but chronic warfare, the land was fallen, in a great measure, into a state of nature.

With the decay of all things Irish that has followed the Famine, these physical attributes have declined along with so much else that was typical of the nation and the man.

One chief cause of the far-reaching distress wrought by great Asiatic famines has been the almost complete commercial isolation of Asiatic communities.

Next year came the famine, revealing in an instant the rottenness of the economic foundations upon which the welfare of Ireland depended.

In this instance, the highest mandarins escorted the wife of the literary athlete to the top of the wall, where she scattered a few handfuls of rice to avert the impending famine.

In a prolonged famine, his prayers having failed to bring rain, the soothsayers said that a human victim was required.

They committed every outrage which fiends could perpetrate; and though victorious over the armies of Frederic, they rendered the country so utterly desolate, that through famine they were compelled to retreat.

The besiegers, however, thought to reduce the place by famine, being deceived through the following device of her ladyship's chaplain, the Rev.

There were factions in the cities, public executions, not infrequent sieges, scenes of horror, epidemics, famines, and all these combined with religious superstition and the often unjust and cruel laws should have been factors for insanity.

Even this poor, unclothed, and starving wretch had a feeling of patriotism, a pride of country, though that country had been so wretchedly governed, and was now desolated by a famine.

The earthquake, flood, tidal wave, famine, withering or devastating wind and poisonous gases, the geological monsters and ravening bird, beast and fish, have their representatives or supposed incarnations in mythical phantasms.

The returning miners have all told the same story of the journey and the lack of provisions, but, in spite of this, crowds of men are hurrying into this country which is already on the verge of famine.

Yet the very country thus groaning under such a terrible sweep of famine is actually pouring from all her ports a profusion of food, day after day; flinging it from her fertile bosom, with the wanton excess of a prodigal oppressed by abundance.

It was just at this precise period, therefore, that the people, impelled by hunger and general misery, began to burst out into that excited stupefaction which is, we believe, peculiar to famine riots.

Alas, what a change is this from comfort, industry, independence, and respectability, to famine, wretchedness, and the utmost degradation!

Now that he was settled, and her own temple bound up, the children once more commenced their cry of famine; for nothing can suspend the stern cravings of hunger, especially when fanged by the bitter consciousness that there is no food to be had.

The adventurers had found, not conquest and gold, but a dull exile in a petty fort by a hot and sickly river, with hard labor, ill fare, prospective famine, and nothing to break the weary sameness but some passing canoe or floating alligator.

The Imperial Light Horse are celebrating their achievement by a brilliant gathering to-night, and have feasted their guests on so many good things that one begins to doubt whether there can be much scarcity in camp, though ordinary articles of food, and especially drink, are running up rapidly to famine prices.

These great public works have largely increased the area of land under cultivation, minimized the risk of famine, equalized the prices of agricultural produce, and developed a large and lucrative export trade.

The bright lips strive, and for an instant his soul turns sick with famine for the face; but only for an instant, and in a supreme revulsion of feeling he beseeches her, crying that the world may not end as it began, in blood.

They hated the nobility for stealing from them their freedom and their land; and the nobility hated them for not being prosperous and happy, and for bringing famine and misery into the state, which had been so kind and had emancipated them.

The torments of famine are all forgotten; our thoughts are concentrated with fevered expectation upon the longed-for moment when Curtis shall dole out the scanty measure of lukewarm water that makes up our ration.

His work of order was necessarily a costly work; and the steady pressure of his taxation, a pressure made the harder by local famines and plagues during his reign, has left traces of the grumbling it roused in the pages of the English Chronicle.

It is not likely, however, that the human stomach even under the pressure of famine is able to get much nutriment out of sawdust.

When the war reduced the supply and increased the demand we all felt the sugar famine, and it became a mark of patriotism to refuse candy and to drink coffee unsweetened.

Even when taught by dire experience the necessity of laying up adequate stores, it was the almost universal practice to waste great quantities of food by a constant succession of feasts, in the superstitious observances of which the stores were rapidly wasted and plenty soon gave way to scarcity and even to famine.

For at that period, the attention of the west countrymen was devoted almost exclusively to their mines and fisheries, to the neglect of agriculture; and the county being thus dependent upon importations, famine was not uncommon.

They were famishing men, and the corn was in their power; but they had come to buy, and famine itself, with the almost certainty of impunity, could not tempt them to steal.

Notwithstanding the famine in 1770, which wasted Bengal in a manner dreadful beyond all example, the investment, by a variety of successive expedients, many of them of the most dangerous nature and tendency, was forcibly kept up; and even in that forced and unnatural state it gathered strength almost every year.

The king had no artillery worth speaking of, and the walls, manned by brave men, might well, for a definite time, resist assault; but the stores of food could not long support the large population now gathered in the town, and there seemed no possibility, whatever, of assistance from England before the horrors of famine would be upon them.

Their storehouses were scarcely sufficiently provided to hold out for any great length of time, and they almost imagined that to reduce them to extremities by famine was the intention of the besiegers.

Famine, fire, pestilence, and war, each in turn, and sometimes in conjunction, beleaguered the little stronghold, and threatened to wipe it out.

I considered them answerable for the horrors of the first great French Revolution, and for the miseries of the Irish famine.

Little as we now consider the possibilities of food famine, history shows that nations rapidly increase to the limit of their agricultural production or beyond, and we must reckon not only on our own increase but also upon immigration from, and export to, nations whose pressure upon their production exceeds ours.

Irrigation would command enthusiasm where railways would only provoke opposition, and the French could find no surer way of winning the hearts of the people than by coping at once with the agricultural water supply, in order to provide against such years of famine as the present, and worse that are well remembered.

We made up our stock to twenty-six, but several of them were putrid, and scarcely eatable, even by men suffering the extremity of famine.

After suffering the utmost extremities of famine, after feeding on the vilest aliments, the garrison desired at last to capitulate.

Pestilence was aiding famine in its work; and the Spanish writers say that "as the troops advanced, the bodies lay so thick that it was impossible to walk without treading on them."

I seriously apprehend that you will, in some such seasons of adversity as I have described, do things which will prevent prosperity from returning; that you will act like people who should in a year of scarcity devour all the seed corn and thus make the next year not of scarcity, but of absolute famine.

The next year he came again, encamped his army near the city, destroyed what little verdure remained near its walls, and waited calmly until famine and anarchy should force the citizens to yield.

A narrow slit in the mew, which from me has the name of Famine, and in which others yet must be shut up, had already shown me through its opening many moons, when I had the bad dream that rent for me the veil of the future.

After a wild dream of famine and fever, imperial loans, rates in aid, jobbing public works, confiscated estates, constituencies self-disfranchised, and St.

The mission is a dangerous one, and will demand activity, energy, and courage, all of which you possess; but in the south you will have neither cold nor famine to contend with, and far greater opportunities, maybe, of gaining credit than you would in an army like this where, as they have proved to the enemy, every man is brave.

Whether he was preparing to consult his colleagues or not, the Irish potato famine forced his hand before he had done so.

These had even grown so bold of late, as to be seeking permission to erect a meeting-house; which almost moved the Puritan divines to prophesy famine, earthquakes and pestilence as the results of such an ungodly toleration of heresy.

This is not a treatise on education, and elsewhere the statistics of length of schooling per year for the different parts of the country and of dearth of school seats in cities and famine of teachers everywhere must be considered.

It happened that just at this time there was a famine in the land, and the woodcutter and his wife became so poor that they could no longer give their boys enough to eat.

Yet about fifty young creatures, boys and girls, with all the appearance of disease and famine consequent upon scanty food and long confinement in unwholesome places, were sitting and lying about among the filthiest animals in the streets.

He laid in supplies as though he had inside information of a famine near at hand; and his pipes and his great cans of tobacco were piled up with his cards and his books on the table where he played solitaire all day and read half the night.

This feeling was apparently prompted by the knowledge of the fact that the farmers were reaping a harvest out of the famine, while other ratepayers, such as the small tradesmen, were suffering as well as the poor.

There were wolves in those forests he knew, though they lived in the unvisited depths of the wood and came not near the habitations of men unless they were fierce with famine.

The rock however was hard, and the men enfeebled by famine; and the consequence was that Simon, like his fellow leader, was compelled to make his way to the surface.

What could they do but fight for the mere sustenance of nature, and tear each other to pieces till famine, and pestilence following in the train of famine, came to turn the terrible commotion into a more terrible repose?

As yet vegetables, although very dear, had not risen to famine prices; for although the town had depended chiefly upon the produce of the mainland, many of the natives had grown small patches of vegetables in their gardens for their own use, and these they now disposed of at prices that were highly satisfactory to themselves.

Then will he melt the frost, pull the teeth of famine, give us back our rivers of deep water, our lakes of sweet water, take the bitter from the buckeye, and in all ways make the world the good world it was before he left us.

It is well known that men die when natural conditions become favorable enough; famines recurrently sweep many from the earth.

From death, famine, rapine, and the concealed war of nature we can see that the highest good, which we can conceive, the creation of the higher animals has directly come.

The rioters rushed over to the wicket, which was fixed in the door of the shop, and fought and snarled with each other for their slender purchases of the bread of famine.