[ eet ]
See synonyms for eat on
verb (used with object),ate [eyt; especially British et] /eɪt; especially British ɛt/ or (Archaic) eat [et, eet]; /ɛt, it/; eat·en or (Archaic) eat [et, eet]; /ɛt, it/; eat·ing.
  1. to take into the mouth and swallow for nourishment; chew and swallow (food).

  2. to consume by or as if by devouring gradually; wear away; corrode: The patient was eaten by disease and pain.

  1. to make (a hole, passage, etc.), as by gnawing or corrosion.

  2. to ravage or devastate: a forest eaten by fire.

  3. to use up, especially wastefully; consume (often followed by up): Unexpected expenses have been eating up their savings.

  4. to absorb or pay for: The builder had to eat the cost of the repairs.

  5. Slang: Vulgar. to perform cunnilingus or fellatio on.

verb (used without object),ate [eyt; especially British et] /eɪt; especially British ɛt/ or (Archaic) eat [et, eet]; /ɛt, it/; eat·en or (Archaic) eat [et, eet]; /ɛt, it/; eat·ing.
  1. to consume food; take a meal: We'll eat at six o'clock.

  2. to make a way, as by gnawing or corrosion: Acid ate through the linoleum.

  1. eats, Informal. food.

Verb Phrases
  1. eat away / into to destroy gradually, as by erosion: For eons, the pounding waves ate away at the shoreline.

  2. eat out, to have a meal at a restaurant rather than at home.

  1. eat up,

    • to consume wholly.

    • to show enthusiasm for; take pleasure in: The audience ate up everything he said.

    • to believe without question.

Idioms about eat

  1. be eating someone, Informal. to worry, annoy, or bother: Something seems to be eating him—he's been wearing a frown all day.

  2. eat clean. clean (def. 50).

  1. eat crow. crow1 (def. 7).

  2. eat high off the hog. hog (def. 16).

  3. eat humble pie. humble pie (def. 3).

  4. eat in, to eat or dine at home.

  5. eat one's heart out. heart (def. 26).

  6. eat one's terms. term (def. 17).

  7. eat one's words. word (def. 17).

  8. eat out of one's hand. hand (def. 50).

  9. 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.

  10. eat someone's lunch, Slang. to thoroughly defeat, outdo, injure, etc.

  11. eat the wind out of, Nautical. to blanket (a sailing vessel sailing close-hauled) by sailing close on the weather side of.

Origin of eat

First recorded before 900; Middle English eten, Old English etan; cognate with German essen, Gothic itan, Latin edere, esse, Homeric Greek édein

Other words from eat

  • eater, noun
  • outeat, verb (used with object), out·ate, out·eat·en, out·eat·ing.
  • un·der·eat, verb (used without object), un·der·ate, un·der·eat·en, un·der·eat·ing. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use eat in a sentence

  • "eat away," said Stingaree, seating himself and producing pipe and tobacco.

    Stingaree | E. W. (Ernest William) Hornung
  • "Suppose you stay and have dessert with us," suggested Mrs. Martin, well knowing how children like to eat away from home.

British Dictionary definitions for eat (1 of 2)


/ (iːt) /

verbeats, eating, ate or eaten
  1. to take into the mouth and swallow (food, etc), esp after biting and chewing

  2. (tr; often foll by away or up) to destroy as if by eating: the damp had eaten away the woodwork

  1. (often foll by into) to use up or waste: taxes ate into his inheritance

  2. (often foll by into or through) to make (a hole, passage, etc) by eating or gnawing: rats ate through the floor

  3. to take or have (a meal or meals): we always eat at six

  4. (tr) to include as part of one's diet: he doesn't eat fish

  5. (tr) informal to cause to worry; make anxious: what's eating you?

  6. (tr) slang to perform cunnilingus or fellatio upon

  7. I'll eat my hat if informal I will be greatly surprised if (something happens that proves me wrong)

  8. eat one's heart out to brood or pine with grief or longing

  9. eat one's words to take back something said; recant; retract

  10. eat out of someone's hand to be entirely obedient to someone

  11. eat someone out of house and home to ruin someone, esp one's parent or one's host, by consuming all his food

Origin of eat

Old English etan; related to Gothic itan, Old High German ezzan, Latin edere, Greek edein, Sanskrit admi

Derived forms of eat

  • eater, noun

British Dictionary definitions for EAT (2 of 2)


abbreviation for
  1. Tanzania (international car registration)

Origin of EAT

from E(ast) A(frica) T(anganyika) or E(ast) A(frica) Z(anzibar)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with eat


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

also see:

  • dog eat dog
  • proof of the pudding is in the eating
  • what's eating you

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.