the act of a person or thing that eats.
food with reference to its quality or tastiness when eaten: This fish is delicious eating.


good or fit to eat, especially raw (distinguished from cooking): eating apples.
used in eating: eating utensils.

Origin of eating

Middle English word dating back to 1125–75; see origin at eat, -ing1, -ing2
Related formsun·eat·ing, adjective



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.

to take into the mouth and swallow for nourishment; chew and swallow (food).
to consume by or as if by devouring gradually; wear away; corrode: The patient was eaten by disease and pain.
to make (a hole, passage, etc.), as by gnawing or corrosion.
to ravage or devastate: a forest eaten by fire.
to use up, especially wastefully; consume (often followed by up): Unexpected expenses have been eating up their savings.
to absorb or pay for: The builder had to eat the cost of the repairs.
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.

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.

Verb Phrases

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,
  1. to consume wholly.
  2. to show enthusiasm for; take pleasure in: The audience ate up everything he said.
  3. to believe without question.

Origin of eat

before 900; Middle English eten, Old English etan; cognate with German essen, Gothic itan, Latin edere
Related formseat·er, nounout·eat, 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. 2019

Examples from the Web for eating

Contemporary Examples of eating

Historical Examples of eating

  • "But his sitting there eating in that—that shirt—" said his sister.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • They were thinking: "That greedy little girl has gone on and on eating."

  • I hung it up this morning, for the pig with the black feet was eating it.

  • A man is but a beast as he lives from day to day, eating and drinking, breathing and sleeping.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • She sat back in her chair, eating little, starting at every step.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for eating



food, esp in relation to its quality or tastethis fruit makes excellent eating


relating to or suitable for eating, esp uncookedeating pears
relating to or for eatingan eating house



abbreviation for

Tanzania (international car registration)

Word Origin for EAT

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


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
See also eat out, eats, eat up
Derived Formseater, noun

Word Origin for eat

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

Word Origin and History for eating



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for eating




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.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with eating


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.