Besides "I'm hungry" and "I'm starving", where starving is more than hungry, are there other phrases to indicate how hungry you are (including slangs, if any)?

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  • "I could eat a horse" is a common phrase, but I guess you're looking for single words. – JoseK Apr 26 '11 at 13:14
  • @JoseK, please post this as an answer. I'll edit my question to clarify that it doesn't have to be a single word. – Ivo Rossi Apr 26 '11 at 13:16
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    "I'm all rumbly in my tumbly" would work with those that watched/remember Pooh Bear, but even they might look at you strangely...Funny. I think this is the second time I've mentioned Pooh Bear on this site this week... – kitukwfyer Apr 26 '11 at 15:35
  • @F'x How is this not a single word request? Isn't consensus that single word requests do not have be literally single words in order to be tagged as such? – Uticensis Apr 27 '11 at 10:58
  • @Billare: if Ivo's looking for many synonyms, I don't see how it could be single word. To mean, single-word-request is when you say “I remember there's a word that would express this concept, but it forgot it”. Not a big deal anyway, maybe we could take this discussion to meta? – F'x Apr 27 '11 at 11:06

12 Answers 12


My own favourite is esurient. Other than that, ravenous and famished are both quite strong. Malnourished, undernourished, underfed indicate chronicity. Empty is used informally, as is peckish (which is British).

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    +1 for ravenous et al. 'esurient' is new to me, I'll test run it today. – Mitch Apr 26 '11 at 13:50
  • Esurient is archaic and is rarely used; it kind of connotes greediness. – Noah Sep 2 '12 at 5:24

I could eat a horse is a commonly used phrase.

I've just come across "Hungry as a wolf" credited as Italian, Turkish and Cornish phrases to mean "very hungry" but I've not heard this in English before.

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    I take it you're not a child of the eighties then? – ghoppe Apr 26 '11 at 14:56
  • If Cornish is not a dialect of English, then what is it? – Matt E. Эллен Apr 26 '11 at 15:06
  • In Cornwall it only applies when used as: 'Hungry as a werewolf! ;) – Grant Thomas Apr 26 '11 at 15:08
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    @ghoppe: is that a Duran Duran reference – JoseK Apr 26 '11 at 16:13
  • Matt Эллен, Cornish is a Celtic language. English is a Germanic language. – Tristan Sep 19 '13 at 14:50

I guess this is more upper-class/formal, but you could say

I'm famished; I could eat an entire elephant.

You could also say, though I'm not sure how "idiomatic" this is:

My stomach is growling.


I sometimes say I'm peckish when I'm slightly hungry. It's not quite as strong as saying I'm famished or starving.

  • One of my colleagues has recently returned from a 6 month stay in Birmingham, and since then he is always peckish, never hungry :) – JoseK Apr 27 '11 at 6:01

I've got the munchies!


Another couple to throw into the fire are:

Voracious, or covetous, as in:

A voracious, or covetous appetite

Or thinking in terms of slang that hasn't been mentioned, you could use dog-hungry.

These all really only count for the higher level of hunger, see: greed.


As far as slang goes, I have heard fungry, to mean 'f****ing hungry'. Of course, this is somewhat vulgar, so keep that in mind when using it.


Many idioms exist in this area. As mentioned, I could eat a horse, but there are more:

  • I could eat an ox
  • I could eat an ox between two bread vans
  • I could eat the north end of a south bound bear
  • I could eat a scabby donkey/dog
  • Hungry as a bear
  • My belly thinks my throat's been cut
  • And which area would this happen to be? :) – Jimi Oke Apr 26 '11 at 15:59
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    I meant the area of hunger. – Sam Apr 26 '11 at 19:23
  • Thanks for clarifying. I thought you were referring to a physical location, seriously! – Jimi Oke Apr 26 '11 at 22:09

For added emphasis, you also sometimes hear (in BritEng at least):

  • Starving hungry
  • Starving to death

More tongue in cheek:

  • Desirous of imminent sustenance
  • In the US a common tongue-in-cheek one would be to double up and start moaning, or similar. "Desirous of imminent sustenance" amuses me. I'll have to use it and see what funny looks I get. :) – kitukwfyer Apr 27 '11 at 11:44
  • "Desirous of imminent sustenance" amuses me too, though I can't really recommend it. I don't think that I invented it, but a quick search didn't bring anything up. – Benjol Apr 27 '11 at 11:53
  • And "immediate" would make more sense than "imminent", but it doesn't sound so good :) – Benjol Apr 27 '11 at 11:53
  • I am so hungry; I could swallow a horse

  • I am so hungry; I could swallow a sheep

  • I am so hungry; I could swallow a hippo

  • I am so hungry; I could swallow a horse whole

  • I am so hungry; I could swallow a Big Mac :)


I'm so hungry I could eat a scabby donkey between six bread vans is another one, my mum uses it all the time.


I'm so hungry, I could eat a candy cane.

  • A whole candy cane! – Barmar Dec 30 '14 at 21:39

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