“I’m hungry” is a common phrase to express one’s need for food. Here are a variety of different ways to say the same (or similar) thing. I also explain any subtle differences and implied meanings.

* Please note: Even though some of these expressions are considered severe in their literal sense and may be used in more serious contexts, they are often used by native speakers to exaggerate their hunger.


Verbs with HUNGRY

Using the present simple and present continuous have the same meaning.

  • “I feel hungry.”
  • “I’m feeling hungry.”

You can also describe the start of becoming hungry.

  • “I’m starting to feel/get hungry.”
  • “I’m beginning to feel/get hungry.”
  • “I’m getting hungry.”

However, it is not colloquial to say:
   X “I’m becoming hungry.” 
   X “I’m starting to become hungry.”

Adverbs with HUNGRY

  • “I’m a little hungry.” 
  • “I’m fairly hungry.” 
  • “I’m kind of hungry.” 
  • “I’m so hungry.” 
  • “I’m very hungry.” 
  • “I’m really hungry.” 
  • “I’m extremely hungry.” 
  • “I’m freaking hungry.” 
  • (“I’m f**king hungry.”)

Synonyms of I’M HUNGRY

– (adjective) Dying because of a lack of food. But this can be used in an informal way to mean very hungry.

– (adjective) Extremely hungry.

– (adjective) Extremely hungry.

In conversational English, “starving” is more common than “ravenous” and “famished.”

– (adjective) Slightly hungry.

  • “What’re we doing for dinner? I’m starting to feel peckish.”

– (informal adjective) Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. This is a combination of the words, “hungry” and “angry.”

  • “Don’t talk to me. I’m getting hangry.”

Die of/from hunger
– (expression) Synonym of “starving.”

This can also be used in an informal way to exaggerate one’s hunger.

  • “Give me food! I’m dying of hunger.

– (informal noun) Small light things or snacks to eat, like chips or chocolate.

The munchies
– (informal noun) A strong desire to eat snacks.

  • “Do you have any snacks? I have the munchies.”

Stomach rumbling/growling
– (expression) Abdominal sounds due to food, liquids or air moving through your intestines. 

This expression is often used when feelings of hunger are accompanied by abdominal sounds. However, rumbling can sometimes occur after eating.

  • “Where’s lunch? My stomach is rumbling already.”
  • “I’m so hungry. People can hear my stomach growling from the other side of the room.”

I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse
– (idiom) A humorous way of saying you are extremely hungry.

There are other variations with “ox,” or “a whole elephant.” However, “horse” is the only one found in the Cambridge Dictionary.

* Please note: “eat a horse” ≠ “eat like a horse”

Eat like a horse
– (idiom) To always eat a lot of food. Although this is a similar phrase, this refer to one’s ability to eat a lot, not about being hungry. 

Hungry as a wolf/bear/lion/goat/hunter
– Very hungry.

These expressions are considered old-fashioned.

Make somebody’s mouth water
– (idiom) When the smell, sight or even the thought of food that makes your mouth water and want to eat it. The verb, “water,” refers to the production of saliva.

This expression is typically used to refer to making a person hungry in response to the smell, sight or thought of food.

  • “Thinking of my mum’s cooking makes my mouth water.”
  • “My mouth waters every time I think of my mum’s cooking.”

Expressing hunger for a specific food

Hungry for something (expression)

  • “I’m hungry for a burger.”

Want (verb)

  • “I want (a) pizza.”
  • “I really want to eat/have Korean food.”

– (verb) To desire something strongly.

It can be used to refer to other things but can be used to refer to food – and in particular, pregnancy cravings.

  • “I’m craving (some) tacos.”

Craving (for) (gerund/noun)

  • “I have a craving for pickles and ice-cream.”

Hanker (for)
– (verb) – a synonym of “crave.”

Honestly speaking, this is not something I hear very often.

  • “I’ve been hankering for a bowl of ramen.”

Hankering (for) (gerund/noun)

  • “I have a real hankering for sushi.”

Have an appetite for (something)
– (expression) To be hungry for a particular food.

  • “I have an appetite for a nice, juicy steak.”

To die/kill for something
– (informal expressions, exaggeration) Intense desire to have something.

They actually have slightly different meanings, but are often used interchangeably when referring to food.

  • “I’d die for my mom’s cooking right now.”
  • “I could kill for a bowl of hot chicken soup.”

Feel like (something)
– (phrasal verb) A desire to do or have something.

This meaning is not as strong as the words, “crave” or “hanker.”

  • “I feel like (eating/having) Chinese food.”

Be in the mood (for something)
– (idiom) To feel like doing or having something.

  • “I’m in the mood for kebabs.”

(informal verb, British Eng) Similar to “feel like” or “be in the mood.”

  • “I fancy some chocolate cake.”

Original post: 6 January 2021