I’m “Starving”

Dictionary.com says the definition of starving is “to die or perish from lack of food or nourishment”.

A lot of people throw around the word “starving” a lot. At lunch in school I will here my friends say it and I have to bite my tongue from replying, “No, I am,” or was. One of my favorite high school English teachers once told everyone that we were using the word incorrectly and we would be more correct to use “ravenous” or just plain “hungry”.  Because that is what most people are. Hungry. So why take it to an extreme? They have probably never actually felt what it is like to starve. They’ve never felt the clawing hunger that all of a sudden goes away but you feel like you’re walking with an elephant on your back and the lights in the room are getting dim all the time. They’ve never felt the cold in the summer or the pain in your stomach that keeps you up at night while you curl into a ball and hope it will go away so you can get some sleep. They’ve probably never been to the point where food looks both like the greatest thing they’ve ever seen and also the most revolting scene in their life.

So why just throw it around like it means nothing? Like maybe it really means “hungry” the way they use it? People naturally exaggerate, or lie, to get their point across. My lit teacher explained this to us with a story about two students. One came up to the other after a class and explained how the teacher was so mad that their face turned bright red and they thought they would see smoke coming out of his ears and maybe even explode. In reality, the teacher probably just spoke in a loud stern voice and maybe even broke his yard stick in half banging it on a table (my Japanese teacher did this in my freshman year). People embellish stories so that the receiver will know what they felt like and understand where they are coming from. If the kid simply said the teacher yelled at everyone, the other kid’s response would be something like, “yeah, so?” So maybe that’s an excuse to use “starving” instead of “hungry”. Or is it? Do people really need to know that you feel like you are going to die if you don’t get food soon? Chances are that you won’t die if you don’t get food soon unless you’re like me and everyone else that has an eating disorder. But if you had one, you certainly wouldn’t look at your friends come lunch time and say, “I’m starving”. You would say, “I don’t feel well, I’ll eat later” or, “I ate last period so I’m pretty full” while clutching your stomach hoping it will shut up and no one will notice.

I don’t even use the word “starving” when I really am starving. When I’m hungry I use “hungry” and sometimes “ravenous” if I really feel like I could eat a whole wildebeest (too much Lion King watching). I don’t go all crazy and correct people when they use the word “starving” but I would prefer that they pick a different word. I’ve starved before and it’s not fun. The word does not bring up good memories.


Do you ever use the word? No judgment if you do.

What do you think on the subject?


8 thoughts on “I’m “Starving”

  1. I think I’ve maybe used the word a couple of times, but only in extreme cases where I didn’t eat for most of the day or something because I was really busy. But it definitely is an exaggeration, unless you actually are starving yourself. I’m not sure what counts as starving and I don’t hate when people use the word, I just think that people don’t know what it really means.

  2. not gonna lie, i have used “starving” a lot. i say it, without even thinking about it. then there are times where i’m like, no i can’t say that! i’m not really starving! it’s like a habit for me. a horrible habit that i really need to break. this post really got me thinking!

  3. This is a very thoughtful post.. I like it!
    I used to throw around the word “starving” all the time.. until my eating disorder, the time when I actually was starving myself. I didn’t think about it prior to my lowest days, but now I’m very cautious when I talk about food/hunger/meals. I rarely talk about hunger cues with people anymore as a result of ED. Even in recovery, it’s hard to discuss these things with people!

  4. I hardly ever use the word starving unless I really feel like I might pass out from lack of food – which has happened only like once in the past 3 months.
    But it’s true, people throw around a lot of strong words that they rarely mean. It sometimes helps to stop and think about what the word REALLY means and when it should be used.

  5. I hate when people use that word. whenever I hear it I am laughing in my head, thinking, oh you have no idea what starving is. I think the only two cases where it is appropriate is in ed terms, and those suffering in countries of malnutrition.

  6. Beth C. says:

    I rarely use the word. People don’t always grasp the weight that some words carry. Most people who are “starving” likely aren’t purposefully being insensitive, just dramatic. Where I live, people say thay they’re dying all the time. The truth of the matter: the South can get pretty hot!

  7. Oh my gosh, this is my BIGGEST pet peeve. When I hear people in class or around me say they are just “absolutely starving” I can’t help but think, you have no idea. So I definitely know how you feel. Personally I never say this either, I say I’m hungry if anything but even that I have a hard time admitting to anyone. Which is so stupid when you think about it but it’s the truth.

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