< /ɛt, it/; eat·ing.
- to consume food; take a meal: We’ll eat at six o’clock.
- to make a way, as by gnawing or corrosion: Acid ate through the linoleum.
- eats, Informal. food.
- eat away/into, to destroy gradually, as by erosion: For eons, the pounding waves ate away at the shoreline.
- eat out, to have a meal at a restaurant rather than at home.
- eat up,
- to consume wholly.
- to show enthusiasm for; take pleasure in: The audience ate up everything he said.
- to believe without question.
- be eating (someone), Informal. to worry, annoy, or bother: Something seems to be eating him—he’s been wearing a frown all day.
- eat crow. crow1(def 7).
- eat high off the hog. hog(def 16).
- eat humble pie. humble pie(def 3).
- eat in, to eat or dine at home.
- eat one’s heart out. heart(def 26).
- eat one’s terms. term(def 17).
- eat one’s words. word(def 16).
- eat out of one’s hand. hand(def 49).
- eat (someone) out of house and home, to eat so much as to strain someone’s resources of food or money: A group of hungry teenagers can eat you out of house and home.
- eat (someone’s) lunch, Slang. to thoroughly defeat, outdo, injure, etc.
- eat the wind out of, Nautical. to blanket (a sailing vessel sailing close-hauled) by sailing close on the weather side of.
- Tanzania (international car registration)
verb eats, eating, ate or eaten
- to take into the mouth and swallow (food, etc), esp after biting and chewing
- (tr; often foll by away or up) to destroy as if by eatingthe damp had eaten away the woodwork
- (often foll by into) to use up or wastetaxes ate into his inheritance
- (often foll by into or through) to make (a hole, passage, etc) by eating or gnawingrats ate through the floor
- to take or have (a meal or meals)we always eat at six
- (tr) to include as part of one’s diethe doesn’t eat fish
- (tr) informal to cause to worry; make anxiouswhat’s eating you?
- (tr) slang to perform cunnilingus or fellatio upon
- I’ll eat my hat if informal I will be greatly surprised if (something happens that proves me wrong)
- eat one’s heart out to brood or pine with grief or longing
- eat one’s words to take back something said; recant; retract
- eat out of someone’s hand to be entirely obedient to someone
- eat someone out of house and home to ruin someone, esp one’s parent or one’s host, by consuming all his food
Old English etan (class V strong verb; past tense æt, past participle eten) “to eat, devour, consume,” from Proto-Germanic *etanan (cf. Old Frisian ita, Old Saxon etan, Middle Dutch eten, Dutch eten, Old High German ezzan, German essen, Old Norse eta, Gothic itan), from PIE root *ed- “to eat” (see edible).
Transferred sense of “slow, gradual corrosion or destruction” is from 1550s. Meaning “to preoccupy, engross” (as in what’s eating you?) first recorded 1893. Slang sexual sense of “do cunnilingus on” is first recorded 1927. Eat out “dine away from home” is from 1933. The slang phrase to eat one’s words is from 1570s; to eat one’s heart out is from 1590s; for eat one’s hat, see hat.
- To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption.
- To consume, ravage, or destroy by or as if by ingesting, such as by a disease.
To consume a great deal of someone’s food: “Mrs. Baker complained that her three teenagers were eating her out of house and home.”
Eat so much as to deplete someone’s resources, as in The kids are eating her out of house and home. This hyperbole was well known by the time Shakespeare used it (2 Henry IV, 2:1): “He hath eaten me out of house and home.”
In addition to the idioms beginning with eat
- eat and run
- eat away at
- eat crow
- eat high off the hog
- eat in
- eat like a bird
- eat one’s cake and have it, too
- eat one’s hat
- eat one’s heart out
- eat one’s words
- eat out
- eat out of someone’s hand
- eat shit
- eat someone alive
- eat someone out
- eat someone out of house and home
- eat someone’s ass out
- eat someone’s lunch
- eat someone up
- eat up
- dog eat dog
- proof of the pudding is in the eating
- what’s eating you