Old English hunger, hungor "unease or pain caused by lack of food, debility from lack of food, craving appetite," also "famine, scarcity of food in a place," from Proto-Germanic *hungruz (source also of Old Frisian hunger, Old Saxon hungar, Old High German hungar, Old Norse hungr, German hunger, Dutch honger, Gothic huhrus), probably from PIE root *kenk- (2) "to suffer hunger or thirst" (source also of Sanskrit kakate "to thirst;" Lithuanian kanka "pain, ache; torment, affliction;" Greek kagkanos "dry," polykagkes "drying"). From c. 1200 as "a strong or eager desire" (originally spiritual). Hunger strike attested from 1885; earliest references are to prisoners in Russia.
Old English hyngran "be hungry, feel hunger, hunger for," from the source of hunger (n.). Compare Old Saxon gihungrjan, Old High German hungaran, German hungern, Gothic huggrjan. In late Old English also "desire with longing." In Old English and Middle English also with an impersonal form (it hungers me). By normal development it would be Modern English *hinger, but the form was influenced in Middle English by the noun. Related: Hungered; hungering.
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