When someone is very hungry we say he is starving. How to describe someone who is very thirsty?

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Hungry is to starving as thirsty is to parched.

Parched : very thirsty - M-W

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    Fairly rare in the US, and more apt to be used with a wink when someone wants an alcoholic beverage. "Dying of thirst" is far more idiomatic. – Hot Licks Jan 30 '16 at 12:35
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    But not uncommon in the UK, where context is important in distinguishing real thirst and thirst for alcohol. – Chris H Jan 30 '16 at 14:07
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    My first thought was "parched" , I thought it was a common US word. Perhaps your circle of friends is just well hydrated? – JoeTaxpayer Jan 30 '16 at 17:00
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    @HotLicks people say "I'm starving" a lot more often than they die from lack of food; there should be room for a liquid equivalent term meaning "more than thirsty" but not going as far as "death from dehydration", shouldn't there?. (I think parched is a good word for the informal way people use 'starving', in the UK). – TessellatingHeckler Jan 30 '16 at 17:29
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    @TessellatingHeckler Except the "dying of thirst" typically isn't literal. I've heard that phrase many times, and no one ever meant it as they were actually about to die. – Carcigenicate Jan 30 '16 at 17:49

While "dying of thirst" is still a common expression, nowadays it's much more likely to hear someone say they're dehydrated. (US English)

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    I would say "dehydrated" is more like "malnourished." It's much more technical. – JFA Jan 30 '16 at 18:04
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    I suspect it depends a lot on where you are. If you're running a relief station for a marathon, eg, "dehydrated" would be fairly common. But at a refreshment stand at a county fair it would be far rarer. – Hot Licks Jan 30 '16 at 18:31
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    "Starving" describes a current state - right now, I am starving. "Dehydrated" describes a longer-term condition - "I am generally dehydrated". You can stop being starving by eating a sandwich, but you can't stop being dehydrated by drinking a glass of water. "Dehydrated" would be analogous to "malnourished" (you can change either condition by changing long-term habits, not by any immediate action) – Jon Kiparsky Jan 30 '16 at 20:33
  • If we are going to be using the base verb of "dehydrate", it should at least be "dehydrating" – robert Jan 31 '16 at 0:48
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    And you can't stop being starved by eating something... Your body needs time to absorb the nutriment, just as it needs time to fully absorb water. If anything the effect of water against hydration is more immediate than that of food against starvation. – robert Jan 31 '16 at 1:34

Hungry is to starving as thirsty is to thirsting

assoiffé adj (qui a très soif) thirsty, thirsting adj

Il fait très chaud, les animaux sont assoiffés. It's very hot, the animals are very thirsty. WordReference (Oxford) English-French Dictionary

"thirsting animals" Google Books

"thirsting rats" Google Books

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    All this talk of food has me all starvy. – candied_orange Jan 30 '16 at 14:26
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    Never heard the word thirsting. – JoeTaxpayer Jan 30 '16 at 17:01
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    I have heard "thirsting", but only in the phrase "thirsting for <something>" – Dancrumb Jan 30 '16 at 17:32
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    I don't think this is accurate at all. I think you have to be thirsting for something. The quote also doesn't support this assertion because it is mostly in french. – JFA Jan 30 '16 at 18:03
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    I'm thirsting for french fries. – Hot Licks Jan 31 '16 at 3:00

You need to be aware that often starving is used in a hyperbolic sense, and not its literal meaning that indicates malnourishment.


Man I'm starving! I haven't eaten since breakfast!

The equivilent I would suggest here is parched.

Man I'm parched! Do you have any water?

If you are looking for a equivilent term to the literal starving:


The man was found starving in the desert.

I would suggest [very] dehydrated:

The man was found critically dehydrated in the desert.

The man was found severely dehydrated in the desert.

Though parched seems to still fit:

The man was found parched in the desert.


The word we use here (UK) is gasping


1.3 (be gasping for) British informal Be desperate to obtain or consume; crave:

'I'm gasping for a drink!'



Adjective. British. Spoken.

  1. very thirsty


be gasping

UK informal

to be very ​thirsty


It is very common for us to use "gasping" to mean "very thirsty", and, in my house, 'gasping' was used exactly like 'starving'. So I might get home from a jog on a summer's day and say,

"Oooooh, could you get me a drink, please, I'm gasping!"

However, I have only just now learned that this is peculiar to informal British usage.

  • 1
    Yeah. Someone in the US might figure out what you mean, but I've never actually heard it used. – Hot Licks Jan 30 '16 at 18:35
  • The example/definition doesn't clearly indicate thirstiness. In the US, if I hear "I'm dying for a drink" I will probably think that person wants alcohol rather than water. Is gasping commonly used for things like water/juice? – Kimball Jan 31 '16 at 0:48
  • @Kimball, no it doesn't indicate thirstiness exclusively, although I think the example and definition both point to the fact that it can be used very happily to indicate a desperate need for a drink. However, for me, certainly, it would be absolutely natural to use "gasping" exactly like "starving" (e.g., I get home after a jog on a summer's day and I say, "oooh get me a drink, please, I'm gasping"), but I couldn't find a reference for that initially. I have one now though. – Au101 Jan 31 '16 at 1:14

Hungry is to starvation as Thirsty is to "Dehydration'

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