any of several large oscine birds of the genus Corvus, of the family Corvidae, having a long, stout bill, lustrous black plumage, and a wedge-shaped tail, as the common C. brachyrhynchos, of North America.
any of several other birds of the family Corvidae.
any of various similar birds of other families.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Corvus.
as the crow flies, in a straight line; by the most direct route: The next town is thirty miles from here, as the crow flies.
eat crow, Informal. to be forced to admit to having made a mistake, as by retracting an emphatic statement; suffer humiliation: His prediction was completely wrong, and he had to eat crow.
have a crow to pick/pluck with someone, Midland and Southern U.S. to have a reason to disagree or argue with someone.
Origin of crow1
before 900; Middle English crowe, Old English crāwe, crāwa; cognate with Old High German krāwa; akin to Dutch kraai, German Krähe
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for eat crow
plural Crows or Crow a member of a Native American people living in E Montana
the language of this people, belonging to the Siouan family
any large gregarious songbird of the genus Corvus, esp C. corone (the carrion crow) of Europe and Asia: family Corvidae . Other species are the raven, rook, and jackdaw and all have a heavy bill, glossy black plumage, and rounded wingsSee also carrion crow Related adjective: corvine
any of various other corvine birds, such as the jay, magpie, and nutcracker
any of various similar birds of other families
offensive an old or ugly woman
as the crow flies as directly as possible
eat crow US and Canadian informal to be forced to do something humiliating
Word Origin for crow
Old English crāwa; related to Old Norse krāka, Old High German krāia, Dutch kraai
(past tense crowed or crew) to utter a shrill squawking sound, as a cock
(often foll by over) to boast one's superiority
(esp of babies) to utter cries of pleasure
Derived Formscrower, nouncrowingly, adverb
the act or an instance of crowing
Word Origin for crow
Old English crāwan; related to Old High German krāen, Dutch kraaien
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for eat crow
Indian tribe of the American Midwest, the name is a rough translation of their own name, Apsaruke.
Old English crawe, imitative of bird's cry. Phrase eat crow is perhaps based on the notion that the bird is edible when boiled but hardly agreeable; first attested 1851, American English, but said to date to War of 1812 (Walter Etecroue turns up 1361 in the Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London). Crow's foot "wrinkle around the corner of the eye" is late 14c. Phrase as the crow flies first recorded 1800.
Old English crawian "make a loud noise like a crow" (see crow (n.)); sense of "exult in triumph" is 1520s, perhaps in part because the English crow is a carrion-eater. Related: Crowed; crowing.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
To suffer a humiliating experience: “The organizers had to eat crow when the fair they had sworn would attract thousands drew scarcely a hundred people.” The phrase probably refers to the fact that crow meat tastes terrible.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Idioms and Phrases with eat crow
Also, eat dirt or humble pie. Be forced to admit a humiliating mistake, as in When the reporter got the facts all wrong, his editor made him eat crow. The first term's origin has been lost, although a story relates that it involved a War of 1812 encounter in which a British officer made an American soldier eat part of a crow he had shot in British territory. Whether or not it is true, the fact remains that crow meat tastes terrible. The two variants originated in Britain. Dirt obviously tastes bad. And humble pie alludes to a pie made from umbles, a deer's undesirable innards (heart, liver, entrails). [Early 1800s] Also see eat one's words.
In addition to the idiom beginning with crow
- as the crow flies
- eat crow
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.