I'm writing a scene where 2 characters come across a village ravaged with famine. Where children are malnourished skeletal figures. As one of them makes to give one child a loaf of bread, the other experienced one, forbids it.

His rationale "As soon as we move away, the others (in extreme hunger) won't hesitate to rip apart the child alive to get to that morsel of half-eaten food"

What phrase/word can I use to describe this extreme form of hunger. the best I could come up with is 'ravenous'


3 Answers 3


It is not a synonym for 'extreme hunger', but I suggest desperation, given by Lexico as

mass noun
A state of despair, typically one which results in rash or extreme behaviour.

Her story is one of poverty and desperation typical of a country that has known nothing but war for the past decade.

So the sentence could be

As soon as we move away, the others (in desperation) won't hesitate to rip apart the child alive to get to that morsel of half-eaten food.

The phrase 'in desperation' could also be 'out of desperation'.


Some suggestions:

  • Is the noun form of 'famished' then 'famine'?
    – Mitch
    Jun 1, 2020 at 0:33
  • @Mitch: Oops.Guess I should've said famished is an adjective that would be appropriate in the following sentence, for example: "As soon as we move away, the others, horribly famished, won't hesitate . . .." Jun 1, 2020 at 2:39
  • The OP has a sentence that requires a noun, but a rewording may work better. Also, note that the middle three of your suggestions are extremely rare (and likely not to be understood), and 'voractiy' is much more common than 'voraciousness'. Oh...maybe you meant 'starvation'? I really thought you were suggesting this fancy obscure word 'starvationk'.
    – Mitch
    Jun 1, 2020 at 2:49
  • 1
    @Mitch: Keep on keepin' me honest, my friend! Don Jun 1, 2020 at 2:55

Oswaal ICSE Sample Question Papers Class 9 English Paper 2 Literature

"The dogs were skeletally thin, but could not be opposed because they were driven by the madness of hunger."


The people of North-East Brazil are starving...

...I have seen deaths like these and they are not very pretty. The people of Bom Jesus sometimes refer to them as doença de cão - literally dog's disease. They are referring to rabies, which in Portuguese is called raiva - literally rage, fury, madness. The madness of hunger is indeed very much like rabies and it is truly a dog's death.

References to the delírio, the madness of hunger, can be found as early as the sixteenth century in the writings of Portuguese navigators, and it is still a recurring theme in Brazilian literature now. It is the subjective voice, the primary experience of hunger....

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.