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Let's say I'm always hungry, even after I have my meal(s). What would be a word to express that? IMHO, I think starving, famished won't be applicable as these words would only describe the current situation.

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closed as off-topic by tchrist, sumelic, jimm101, curiousdannii, Rathony Feb 27 at 4:20

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests" – tchrist, sumelic, jimm101, curiousdannii, Rathony
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

11  
Your stomach is like a bottomless pit. – Mari-Lou A Feb 22 at 16:59
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If you were In India, you'd be called "Kumbhkarna". He's a mythological devil from the epic "Ramayana" who eats for 6 months and sleeps for the remaining 6! – BiscuitBoy Feb 22 at 17:09
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insatiable means "cannot be satisfied". voracious means "having an (unusual) capacity or desire to eat" – Ben Feb 22 at 20:04
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A college student – fluffy Feb 23 at 19:21
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I typed the Dutch word for someone who's always hungry into Google Translate, and it returned "starveling". Never heard of that word though. – Mr Lister Feb 25 at 8:31

11 Answers 11

up vote 89 down vote accepted

Consider insatiable [appetite].

Insatiable means:

always wanting more : not able to be satisfied (MW)

Impossible to satiate or satisfy: an insatiable appetite (TFD)

For example,

Most children like to eat but for some an insatiable appetite means they always want more, causing real problems for parents. (BBC)

The woman is insatiable. When the final whistle blows, she's eaten twenty-three sandwiches in ten minutes, setting a world record (Eat this Book)

[Children] may go through phases where they seem to eat relatively little or are insatiable. (Feeding the Under 5s)

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But would you ever call a person themselves insatiable, or only their appetite. I think you probably could, but an example to quote would really make the case! – curiousdannii Feb 23 at 7:21
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@curiousdannii - calling a person insatiable is ambiguous if you don't specify which particular appetite. Certainly in British English it could well be taken to mean having (for example) an insatiable sexual appetite. – Spratty Feb 23 at 11:09
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@curiousdannii I've added a couple examples demonstrating that insatiable can be used on its own. Still, context is crucial: without a nearby reference to eating, the term by itself is indeed ambiguous. – Nathaniel Feb 23 at 13:41

There are lots of other answers here already, but none seems to have brought up the colorful folk idiom hollow leg.

Wiktionary glosses with some quotations, of which I here reproduce the first, which sufficiently illustrates how the expression is used (so-and-so has a hollow leg):

Capacity to eat large quantities

  • 1998, Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees, page 228: When I was young and growing a lot, and Mama couldn't feed me enough, she used to say I had a hollow leg.

Urban Dictionary glosses:

Imaginary reservoir for one who overindulges in liquor, food, etc. without showing signs of effect.

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1  
In en-gb, normally plural: "hollow legs". – Chris H Feb 23 at 8:59
    
I've never heard that used for food - I've only heard of it used specifically for liquor, i.e. a person who doesn't get drunk. – neminem Feb 23 at 19:00

"Voracious" derives from the Latin for devour (which also gives words like carnivore and omnivore).

Voracious: having or showing a tendency to eat very large amounts of food

(To me this seems like one of the less judgment-laden word choices.)

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1  
Voraciousness doesn't imply that one would continue to be hungry after eating a lot, though, so I don't think this quite applies. – Matthew Read Feb 25 at 5:16

I think glutton comes close to what you are referring to:

  • a person who eats and drinks excessively or voraciously.

(Dictionary.com)

  • a person who eats or consumes immoderate amounts of food and drink.

(AHD)

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This word has a strong negative connotation. Certain people (e.g. teenage boys, professional athletes) simply can't get enough calories without a lot of effort. – Adrian Larson Feb 22 at 18:25
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@AdrianLarson - OP is not very specific about the context, I think it is a term that fits the the general context of "a person who is always hungry". There are not only teen agers and athletes around, but unluckily also people who can't control their appetite for whatever reason. – Josh61 Feb 22 at 18:31
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A glutton is not always hungry. A glutton just likes to eat a lot. That is not what the question asked. – Floris Feb 22 at 19:14
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No - you don't have to be hungry to eat; it is sufficient to be greedy. And I think a glutton can be satisfied. "Glutton" refers to the (enjoyment of) eating, not to hunger; "insatiable" refers to the state of being hungry (not full, not satisfied). I think the latter is definitely the better word. – Floris Feb 22 at 19:21
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A glutton doesn't necessarily enjoy eating, and a glutton isn't necessarily hungry all the time. A glutton just eats (and/or drinks) a lot. – BenM Feb 22 at 20:35

The phrase bottomless pit is sometimes used, although the context would have to be already set for it to make sense.

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Looking through this list of excellent answers, I don't see ravenous, which our friends at Dictionary.com define as

extremely hungry; famished; voracious: feeling ravenous after a hard day's work.

If I want to sound particularly erudite, I might try esurient, which is a Latinate word for pretty much the same thing.

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Neither of these seem to indicate that the person so described would remain hungry after eating, though. – Matthew Read Feb 25 at 5:18

In some parts of the UK, the term gannet is used, a reference to the North Atlantic bird known for supposedly eating large quantities of fish.

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I love this word and use it whenever possible. – Max Williams Feb 24 at 16:57

If you're looking for something classy, you might try gourmand, which is less insulting than some of the other options. The closest translation would be simply a "lover of food", which doesn't necessarily mean constant hunger, but usually that is implied. A gourmand probably has more expensive tastes than a mere glutton, however.

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I would call him/her foodaholic which means:

a person having an excessive, often uncontrollable craving for food.

[Dictionary.com]

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If you're looking for a completely over-the-top historical allusion, you might say that you're a regular Tarrare. Tarrare was a French soldier of the 18th century who suffered from polyphagia:

He was granted quadruple rations but remained hungry; he would scavenge for garbage in gutters and refuse containers, eat the scraps of food left by other patients, and creep into the apothecary's room to eat the poultices. Military surgeons could not understand his appetite.

If the story of Tarrare is too vivid for your use-case, insatiable would probably be about right.

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Depending on context, consider:

bulimic

bulimia

A raging hunger or voracious appetite. Food & Nutrition

Also called hyperphagia. Pathology. abnormally voracious appetite or unnaturally constant hunger. Random House

An abnormal and constant craving for food M-W

hyperorexic

hyperorexia: an abnormal craving for food; a voracious and insatiable appetite. Ologies & -Isms

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It's worth noting that one needs to be extremely careful with bulimic; in most (but perhaps not all) contexts, this will be understood to mean that the hungry person has an eating disorder. – Nathaniel Feb 22 at 17:40
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On Wikipedia it says Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by purging. So, as @Nathaniel mentioned, it sounds more like an eating disorder. – Dumbledore Feb 22 at 17:44
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@Nathaniel Someone who is always hungry actually might have an eating disorder. – Elian Feb 22 at 17:44
    
Sure, that's definitely possible. All I'm saying is that it's crucial to recognize that dominant usage when using this term. – Nathaniel Feb 22 at 17:46
    
@Nathaniel Fair point. I just edited my answer. – Elian Feb 22 at 17:50

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