Definition of eat in English:



  • 1Put (food) into the mouth and chew and swallow it.

    ‘he was eating a hot dog’
    ‘eat up all your peas’
    no object ‘she watched her son as he ate’
    • ‘At all times, foods must be eaten slowly, chewed thoroughly or puréed, and consumed in small portions.’
    • ‘Finally I finish eating my Chinese food and stood up from the table.’
    • ‘With each bite, I regained strength, and I backed to the trunk of a tree to finish eating my food.’
    • ‘The tradition includes eating corned beef and cabbage and drinking it up at the local pub.’
    • ‘He also talks about how his wife was accused of shoplifting in a major supermarket when her young son was spotted eating a grape from the trolley before the bag had been weighed.’
    • ‘Now, it is considered more refined to eat with a spoon and fork.’
    • ‘She quickly ate the burger and swallowed some of the fries whole.’
    • ‘I forgot to wipe my mouth after eating the chocolate cake my mom baked.’
    • ‘When eating solid food, patients may have difficulty chewing and initiating swallows.’
    • ‘In nature we see animals eating their prey alive.’
    • ‘Remember, in the wild, dogs eat fresh meat they have killed themselves.’
    • ‘He had finished eating the cookies, but the pack remained in his hand.’
    • ‘Other people watched the dancing, talked, bought stuff and ate food.’
    • ‘The early humans butchered the elephant at the kill site and ate the meat raw, the archaeologists add.’
    • ‘I think over the five days we were there, our son ate five cheese steak sandwiches.’
    • ‘I finished eating my cereal and put it in the sink when I heard Kay coming down the stairs.’
    • ‘They even had the gall to chew open the fishfood container and eat the food!’
    • ‘In Africa, the fruits are eaten raw, or cooked in a soup, or fried in oil.’
    • ‘Mary smiled at him before eating her cereal, chewing happily.’
    • ‘The nurses brought him food, but he had refused to eat it because it included cheese.’
    1. 1.1 Have (a meal)
      ‘we ate dinner in a noisy cafe’
      • ‘There were several questions and quick answers, but most of the meal was eaten in silence.’
      • ‘She ate breakfast and dinner at the Amish Door Restaurant every day.’
      • ‘We sat at the dinner table later, eating the meal that Jane had prepared.’
      • ‘Vince usually didn't eat lunch or dinner at the same time that she did, which didn't really bother her.’
      • ‘I am only slightly ashamed to announce that I have taken to eating my meals at home at my desk while using my computer.’
      • ‘She was grinning wickedly at the three, and they bit their lips simultaneously with regret for not eating that morning's meal.’
      • ‘There's a special security team that has been coordinated that will watch his every move, even when he eats his last meal.’
      • ‘Then we ate at a small restaurant on a side street with no tourists.’
      • ‘Meals are eaten with a large spoon or chop sticks.’
      • ‘We ate breakfast lunch and dinner with our many relatives, all of whom were delighted to see my mother.’
      • ‘By eating a meal with them, Jesus associated himself with them.’
      • ‘Then we sat on the water pipes which ran wide and warm along the wall outside the dinner hall and ate our lunch.’
      • ‘People are so addicted that they eat lunch and dinner in front of the monitor.’
      • ‘I shrugged nonchalantly and our breakfast was eaten in silence.’
      • ‘Michelle didn't tell Shane, but she hated eating in the cramped cafeteria.’
      • ‘There's lots more to choose from if you can't make it by on a Saturday, or you want to eat lunch or dinner.’
      • ‘We would find little use for most of this as we mainly ate breakfast and evening meals at restaurants and the guiding service supplied packed lunches every midday.’
      • ‘But when it's snowing outside and you're eating the last meal of the year, a treat like this is deserved.’
      • ‘Furthermore, employees made use of the courtyard for their lunch breaks, eating their meals and enjoying the view of a fountain.’
      • ‘Students who have eaten in the village cafeterias quickly learn to appreciate off-campus food.’
      have a meal, partake of food, take food, consume food, feed
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2eat outno object Have a meal in a restaurant.
      • ‘Most of us buy more low fat foods and since many of us still want to eat out, restaurants are increasing their ‘healthy’ selections.’
      • ‘No meals are provided but eating out in this area is not all that expensive with a typical evening meal costing £10.’
      • ‘At present we don't have a fridge, so have been eating out at different restaurants every night, which is nice, but makes me feel like I'm on holiday.’
      • ‘They want to take in some live music in local pubs and eat out in local restaurants.’
      • ‘I would be happy walking by the river, or sitting at home snuggled on the couch - Scarlet always wanted to go places, see shows, eat out at posh restaurants.’
      • ‘It's great to stay in the best hotels, eat out in the best restaurants in Scotland and find new places, but it's hard work.’
      • ‘‘We ate out at restaurants or I cooked huge, high-fat meals every night,’ she recalls.’
      • ‘Eating at Glastonbury isn't, of course, like eating out in stylish restaurants.’
      • ‘My other big money weakness is eating out in restaurants with my mates.’
      • ‘Waterhouse explains that since we eat out so often, restaurant meals are no longer the special treat they once were.’
      • ‘Those of us who eat out enjoy marvelous restaurants.’
      • ‘Others thought the solution to changing food choices was to have someone else prepare all the food for them or to eat out in restaurants.’
      • ‘Anyway, Parisians and New Yorkers eat out nearly every meal and are grateful for the comfort and blessed relative calm of a home-cooked meal.’
      • ‘When you do eat out, choose a restaurant that offers a healthy menu and head off hunger pangs with a small snack (like a few nuts or a piece of fruit) before you arrive.’
      • ‘If eating out in a restaurant have a low calorie starter or dessert.’
      • ‘Today was mundane at work; however I ended up eating out for two meals out of three.’
      • ‘Getting paid to eat out at expensive restaurants is a tough job but someone has to do it.’
      • ‘Even when I was playing, I enjoyed going to fine restaurants and eating out.’
      • ‘Combine this with take-away meals or eating out and you have the perfect recipe for a chore-free week.’
      • ‘In the kitchen, Kathy began cooking meals instead of eating out so she could keep an eye on calories, fat grams and portion sizes.’
    3. 1.3eat inno object Have a meal at home rather than in a restaurant.
      • ‘We can do what ordinary Venetians do: eat in or out, invite friends, and not feel forced to sit on cafe terraces to fill in time between meals.’
      • ‘The accommodation is self-catering, so eating in is the way forward.’
      • ‘The café sells a variety of food including kebabs and baltis and customers can either eat in or take meals away.’
    4. 1.4informal Bother; annoy.
      ‘she knew what was eating him’
      • ‘You feel so violated, that it eats you away slowly.’
      • ‘Whatever's eating him, he's losing his temper more and more, and the angrier he gets, the more incomprehensible he gets.’
      • ‘What you need to do is get to the root of who you are and discover what's eating you.’
    5. 1.5US vulgar slang Perform fellatio or cunnilingus on (someone)
    6. 1.6eat outvulgar slang Perform cunnilingus or anilingus on (someone)
    7. 1.7US informal Absorb (financial loss or cost)
      • ‘Either the barber raises his prices, eats the higher costs, or lays off a worker, like the guy who sweeps up.’
      • ‘In other words, if you like that Q1 banner flying over your plant, you'll eat more cost.’
      • ‘They agree that the first team screwed up; they'd eat the install cost if I paid for the multiplexer.’
      • ‘So those shareholders who invested for those last three weeks are just going to have to eat their losses?’
      • ‘Most don't earn enough to pay it off, so the label eats that cost, making it up through earnings from hits.’
      • ‘In any event, large companies are most likely to eat the costs of any potential licensing, say analysts.’
      • ‘Organic Teas, have decided to eat the cost of buying fair trade rather than raise prices.’
      • ‘As it stands, it's the band that has to eat the costs by having CDs made which they're then giving away.’
      • ‘Sometimes you'll end up eating the cost of a job due to the ammunition expenses and amount of repair that is required to fix up your robot.’
      • ‘I'm sure he had ripped off more than enough foreigners that day to eat his loss.’
      • ‘Usually, the purchasers have to place the machines themselves or eat the cost.’
      • ‘Cost savings are often hard to realize, and those that are usually get eaten by the merger costs.’
      • ‘If we had to, we could probably eat the cost and still have a margin.’
      • ‘He borrowed against his boats to pay the claims, and Julian ate the other costs.’
      • ‘So they're generally eating the currency loss caused by the greenback's decline.’
      • ‘For health clubs with set membership fees, passage may force them to eat the cost.’
      • ‘We would probably have to impose ourselves on Ethiopia and eat the added cost of flying around Egypt.’
      • ‘Damage one and you don't service it yourself, you send it back and eat the cost.’
      • ‘If a hospital spent more than its allotted DRG, it now had to eat the cost.’
      • ‘Rather than eat the loss, he allegedly constructed an electronic shell game to offload the contracts on a innocent dupe.’


  • Food or snacks.

    ‘people would stop for soft drinks or eats’
    • ‘So making healthy eats more easily available is also important.’
    • ‘He introduced me to the streets around the hotel and importantly the cheap eats.’
    • ‘Nice crowd for brunch at the Union Cafe - we opted for cheaper eats at the Oriental fast food place in the food court.’
    • ‘Open for three months now, it's a place for light vegetarian eats.’
    • ‘All this variety is organized into chapters like late-night eats, takeouts, breakfast joints and an array of ethnic sections.’
    • ‘Hola's also got a nice short menu of tropical and tropical-inspired light eats, perfect breakfast and lunch fare.’
    • ‘Yes, that's right, the tables are turned in Germany and the person who is one year older is required to put up eats and drinks for her or his workmates.’
    • ‘Divided into sections that cover small eats, drinks, soups, rice dishes, side dishes and sweets, the recipes are clear and concise.’
    • ‘Refuel with good Slovenian eats like sausages and pastas, and spend your nights in family-run pensions and a medieval castle.’
    • ‘Some members of the corps could be at the venue for anything up to four hours, and with no other outlet for eats or drinks at that level.’
    • ‘An added attraction is a food court offering quick eats representing the best of the East and the West.’
    • ‘Tracy and Lu are the perfect traveling companions… not only do they know where the best eats in town are; they are up at the crack of dawn, ready to explore the city with gusto.’
    • ‘Make a mental note of the cheap eats along this stretch of road.’
    • ‘Tickets cost 10 and include drinks and light eats.’
    nourishment, sustenance, nutriment, subsistence, fare, bread, daily bread
    View synonyms


  • eat someone alive

    • 1informal (of insects) bite someone many times.

      ‘we were eaten alive by mosquitoes’
      • ‘I was sitting lazily in a lawn chair by the river down the hill from my aunt's house and the mosquitoes were eating me alive.’
      • ‘How can I drop a hint to the others that the mosquitoes are eating me alive when they, even the women, are all far more covered than I am?’
      • ‘When I started this, Patty wrote us and said bugs were eating them alive and they had no bathroom facilities except for putting two pieces of wood over a cardboard box and that's what they used as a toilet.’
      • ‘At night, crammed as many as 14 to a room, they say the mosquitoes eat them alive.’
      • ‘He was tempted to take off his shirt, but knew that the wicked little insects would eat him alive.’
      • ‘I finally had to quit because the flies were eating me alive.’
      • ‘It's a wonder he wasn't eaten alive by the midges!’
      • ‘I tell him I am a bit worried about mosquitoes after they nearly ate me alive last time I came here in the summer.’
      • ‘PPS - Population of my room - me, one cockroach, one gecko and one pesky mozzie that is eating me alive.’
      • ‘Last time, in June we were eaten alive by a particularly nasty species of biting fly that drew blood.’
      1. 1.1Exploit someone's weakness and completely dominate them.
        ‘he expects manufacturers to be eaten alive by lawyers in liability suits’
        • ‘I couldn't show any sign of weakness or they'd eat me alive.’
        • ‘‘If a pro-war Labour MP came to our group he would be eaten alive, because we know who said what to whom and when, better than he does,’ said one member.’
        • ‘The Democrats are eating them alive for being go at it alone cowboys and here we go proving their point.’
        • ‘I think there are times when he needs to retreat from media attention - because the same media that will give you exposure is the same media that will eat you alive later on.’
        • ‘Most felt Christie would be eaten alive by some of the bigger, more robust full-forwards.’
        • ‘And he said, ‘We would have handled it the same way, but Republicans in Congress, especially, would have been eating us alive for doing that.’’
        • ‘Up front Laois were eaten alive by a ravenous Westmeath defense.’
        • ‘If he doesn't change his tune the Democrats will eat him alive on this one.’
        • ‘Bargain hunters aren't a completely ruthless bunch, but if you look mean, they will eat you alive.’
        • ‘I just looked out on the prison compound from the solitary room, and I could tell, I couldn't run with these people at all, they'd eat me alive.’
  • eat crow

    • Be humiliated by having to admit one's defeats or mistakes.

      • ‘You will be eating crow for following a leader who has no intention of following through with his promises.’
      • ‘If by the 31 of December of this year, it hasn't happened, we will gladly eat crow.’
      • ‘But now the nutrition nay-sayers may have to eat crow.’
      • ‘And if I go overboard, I eat crow and apologize and beg for mercy.’
      • ‘There, he needs to eat crow, apologise for his mistakes and make clear that he is turning a new page.’
      • ‘It will be nice to see you eating crow in your midseason report.’
      • ‘I smiled on the inside, glad that Sam had to eat crow.’
      • ‘Every time I say I never want to hear another concept record about somebody's failed marriage, one comes along that's lovely enough to make me to eat crow.’
      • ‘I guarantee that I'll be back winning shows again, and then all the doubters are going to have to eat crow for dinner.’
      • ‘We're having to eat crow, is what we're doing, and we might as well admit it.’
  • eat dirt

    • informal Suffer insults or humiliation.

      ‘the film bombed at the box office and the critics made it eat dirt’
      • ‘Any government, any business, any individual who does not align himself with this undisputable reality will eat dirt.’
      • ‘When it came to the ‘A’ Final and a head-to-head with yours truly, he made a jet-propelled getaway and left me eating dirt.’
      • ‘I'm guessing this is what the author wanted her to do, just prostrate herself and eat dirt.’
      • ‘You can be rational and still find yourself eating dirt.’
      • ‘I think I got the laws of physics a bit wrong and I was eating dirt!’
      • ‘Considering he failed in a bid to become manager of Crawley Town shortly before arriving at Tynecastle, he can hardly be blamed for eating dirt at present.’
      • ‘I'd be eating dirt if I just played in a band all the time.’
      • ‘But I couldn't stop because there was a part deep down inside of me, a voice in the back of my head that sounded remotely like my high pitched 10-year-old self that screamed at me to catch her and make her eat dirt.’
      • ‘Down in the garage, the Maranello worker bees buzz about tinkering with the F2002 model, which left the competition eating dirt, and fine-tuning an updated F2003 version which promises more of the same.’
      • ‘The system forces the domestics to eat dirt for two years in hopes of getting into the country.’
  • eat someone's dust

    • Fall far behind someone in a competitive situation.

      • ‘‘Hey,’ Vincent laughed, ‘Looks like you're eating my dust.’’
      • ‘I ran ahead of both of them and left them eating my dust.’
      • ‘Make sure your brother eats your dust on the go-cart track!’
      • ‘‘Get ready to eat my dust Wallace,’ she warned, hopping out of the car on their arrival.’
      • ‘The game does offer wheel-to-wheel, fender banging fun, especially when there are real people in the room to bark at when you've just left them eating your dust.’
      • ‘If they still don't budge, let 'em eat your dust!’
      • ‘We have had close competition on the two opening rounds, losing out to him on the first and letting him eat our dust on round two.’
      • ‘If she hadn't she would have carried on running and left me eating her dust but she didn't.’
      • ‘And his five fellow competitors were soon left eating his dust as he took first place in the Senior Class National Championships.’
      • ‘These losers might treat you and your friends like dirt now, but they'll end up eating your dust.’
  • eat one's heart out

    • 1Suffer from excessive longing for someone or something unattainable.

      • ‘He quickly shut his mouth before opening it again to speak, ‘Can I say that you look absolutely drop-dead gorgeous and that there's not a single guy there tonight who won't be eating his heart out?’’
      • ‘Since he left, she's been sitting at home eating her heart out.’
      • ‘Along comes Martha as a Texas heiress affianced to a prince but eating her heart out over a bus-driver back home.’
      • ‘And now that I have my man back, she can eat her heart out.’
      • ‘How long will you eat your heart out here in tears and torment?’
      • ‘I've been eating my heart out for the last three weeks because he lost the San Diego.’
      • ‘Jamie is eating his heart out for Amanda, the fashion-model wife who ditched him, and whom he still keeps pursuing until he warms to a blind date, Vicky, a philosophy student with whom he may start afresh.’
      • ‘Let him eat his heart out for what he'd rejected.’
      • ‘Choreography like that would have had Diaghilev eating his heart out.’
      • ‘I made sure I looked amazing (he dumped me and broke my heart) so he should eat his heart out.’
      pine, long, ache, brood, mope, fret, sigh, sorrow, suffer, bleed, yearn, agonize, weep and wail, regret someone's absence, regret someone's loss
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1informal in imperativeUsed to encourage feelings of jealousy or regret.
        ‘eat your heart out, I'm having a ball!’
        • ‘The PM's car has a steel plate underside, panic buttons, an exploding windscreen, loudspeakers and even gun ports: 007, eat your heart out.’
        • ‘But April raised her arms high before her - Superman, eat your heart out, she thought - and flew - flew!’
        • ‘There are also a few anthemic numbers thrown in for good measure, such as ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Good Woman’ (Destiny's Child eat your heart out!).’
        • ‘Mary Shelley eat your heart out, here we have a fear of giving birth to monsters in all its glory.’
        • ‘Tiger eat your heart out at this display of totally average golf.’
        • ‘There is a surprise victor at Wimbledon, Maria Sharapova, who as well as taking the plate also wowed the crowds - Anna Kournikova eat your heart out.’
        • ‘‘Sherlock Homes, eat your heart out,’ he muttered, then made his way to the opening in the wall.’
        • ‘Well, Hugh, we may have been snubbed by the Patriot, but eat your heart out: we're in the New York Post's gossip column, Page Six.’
        • ‘Performing home-grown songs laced with a healthy mix of rock standards - including a simply sublime version of Pink Cadillac - eat your heart out, Springsteen - this band set the stage alight.’
        • ‘Bridget Jones eat your heart out, Tracy has a diary that would make many grown men weep, not least because it involves a wedding in November.’
        pine, long, ache, brood, mope, fret, sigh, sorrow, suffer, bleed, yearn, agonize, weep and wail, regret someone's absence, regret someone's loss
        View synonyms
  • eat humble pie

    • Make a humble apology and accept humiliation.

      • ‘He swore to me that he had left it back in my shed, but had to eat humble pie when he discovered it was in his garage all the time.’
      • ‘Derek ate humble pie and he was very proud of me.’
      • ‘My advice to anyone who experiences difficulties with family is to swallow pride, eat humble pie if need be, but above all to go on best as can be as though nothing has happened.’
      • ‘It was a risk I was prepared to take, although if it didn't work out I knew I might have to come back and eat humble pie.’
      • ‘The paper decides to eat humble pie, giving it a front page story and an apology, which seems to be 15 years too late.’
      • ‘Now, seven years later, we're eating humble pie.’
      • ‘I was going to make him eat humble pie on his own doorstep.’
      • ‘If I could paint a picture it would be of me eating humble pie.’
      • ‘This Board will not be eating humble pie as he suggested.’
      • ‘And those predicting total economic mayhem may still be forced to eat humble pie by this time next year if economic growth starts to pick up.’
      back down, admit defeat, concede defeat, surrender, capitulate, yield, give in, give up, give way, cave in, submit
      View synonyms
  • eat like a bird

    • informal Eat very little.

      • ‘I'm a rather big girl, which means I don't exactly eat like a bird.’
      • ‘Children wont starve themselves, and after a few days my daughter was eating like a horse.’
      • ‘Despite eating like a horse recently my weight has continued to plummet.’
      • ‘Jack is a great footballer and he eats like a horse.’
      • ‘He wasn't into real sports, but was on the cross country and track teams, which pretty much explained why he was as skinny as stringed beans, even though he ate like a horse.’
      • ‘Sometimes you can't get him to eat a thing, and then at other times he eats like a horse!’
      • ‘I can't stress enough that you don't have to starve yourself or eat like a bird to build a great body.’
      • ‘Originally, she had dieted all the way down to 137 pounds - without doing any exercise - but she found she had to eat like a bird to keep herself at that weight.’
      • ‘She's been here for three months and she's fine… she eats like a horse… and she loves me.’
      • ‘Of course, let's not jump to any distorted conclusion about Sarah's chowing patterns; I imagine Freddie probably eats like a bird, don't you think?’
    • informal

      see eat
  • eat like a horse

    • informal Eat a great deal.

  • eat someone out of house and home

    • informal Eat a lot of someone else's food.

      • ‘When I came home, Kyle and some of his friends I really didn't like were in the kitchen, eating us out of house and home as usual.’
      • ‘She sits around complaining that we have no money and, to be perfectly honest, is eating me out of house and home.’
      • ‘They ate us out of house and home, we have no hamburgers left and we ran out of cheese and onion rolls, but we're famous for that.’
      • ‘I followed closely, knowing that Mike might eat us out of house and home.’
      • ‘Some people say rude guests eat you out of house and home, but they never mention the hijacking of candles.’
      • ‘Now then, is eating me out of house and home all that more entertaining than actually talking to me?’
      • ‘Then there comes a time when the children grow into teenagers and you think that will eat you out of house and home, but there is light of the end of the tunnel!’
      • ‘I bet you anything we'll eat you out of house and home.’
      • ‘This will help solve the problem of what to eat for lunch but will protect the employer from having workers eat him out of house and home, since the charge for food will both reduce consumption and also provide income.’
      • ‘‘I ate them out of house and home so it's probably his wife's decision,’ he said.’
  • eat one's words

    • Retract what one has said, especially in a humiliated way.

      ‘they will eat their words when I win’
      • ‘And now, you know, they saw it, and now they can eat their words.’
      • ‘I'm glad to report that they have been made to eat their words.’
      • ‘The Indian captain also came down heavily on the critics and said that all those who said that Team India was a myth would now be made to eat their words.’
      • ‘You can eat your words now because they have defied you and all of the doubting media army.’
      • ‘Those who talk tough are soon forced to eat their words.’
      • ‘Those who accused him of being a dogmatic socialist have been forced to eat their words.’
      • ‘But the male regulars at the Met bar in Sale may have to eat their words after coming face to face with woman wielding the fastest cue in Britain.’
      • ‘We are content to prove our mettle gradually in our own way - so that biased persons eat their words when we emerge victorious.’
      • ‘However, after he released all three hours of the director's cut, critics were forced to eat their words.’
      • ‘Her burning desire for achievement will ultimately lead her to success in the men's game and her current critics are going to eat their words.’
  • have someone eating out of one's hand

    • Have someone completely under one's control.

      • ‘Paul laughed at the memory of Jason bragging about how he'd have Kirby eating out of his hand and begging to be forgiven.’
      • ‘Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand.’
      • ‘You won't be so reluctant to admit it when I have him eating out of your hand.’
      • ‘Toni nodded her approval, ‘If you don't have Jamie eating out of your hand, believe me, you'll have every other guy there instead!’’
      • ‘Laidlaw had Jack eating out of his hand, especially when he offered him a wee trip round the Cote d' Azur in his yacht.’
      • ‘Turning her charm switch on, Tracy had had him eating out of her hand in a week.’
      • ‘He has everyone's respect because of his charisma and the young guys on the training pitch - he has us eating out of his hand.’
      be in charge of, run, be in control of, manage, direct, administer, head, preside over, have authority over, supervise, superintend, oversee, guide, steer
      View synonyms
  • I'll eat my hat

    • informal Used to indicate that one thinks the specified thing is extremely unlikely to happen.

      ‘if he comes back, I'll eat my hat’
      • ‘If you do all that, and still don't get an A, I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘If places like Scarborough and Doncaster don't benefit from that I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘If he's not snapped up by Hollywood I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘If computers come with CD drives 50 years from now, I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘If they can do it without relying on underlying axioms of homophobia and bigotry, then I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘But if you like the samples, you'll love the original stuff, or I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘And if that doesn't spark some debate, I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘It's so secret I haven't a clue where or when it is but I'll tell you this: if I don't get there, I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘If there's a child anywhere that'll like this I'll eat my hat.’
      • ‘If London is still standing in the year 2020, I'll eat my hat.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • eat into

    • Erode or destroy something gradually.

      ‘these liquids can discolor the surface or even eat into the top layer of concrete’
      • ‘Transaction costs on small trades can eat into your profits.’
      • ‘Bankers have previously warned that raising the reserve requirement would eat into bank profit margins and raise the cost of funds and hence increase the interest rate charged to borrowers.’
      • ‘The fear was that higher interest rates will eat into corporate earnings, slash investment spending and lead to job losses.’
      • ‘Of course, charges and inflation are both eating into the profit.’
      • ‘Oil has jumped nearly 60 percent so far this year, stoking concerns that higher energy costs will eat into corporate profits and curb consumer spending.’
      • ‘Much more hope was placed in diminishing the burdens on production which ate into profits.’
      • ‘That cuts to the heart of Hollywood's distribution system and eats into studio profits, even as it simultaneously creates new revenue opportunities.’
      • ‘But to suspend the wires above the ceiling would cost £10,000 per bed, a cost which would eat into already stretched resources.’
      • ‘But it is still uncertain how much of the bigger tab companies will be able to pass through to consumers, and how sharply the costs will eat into profit margins.’
      • ‘Lending will expand at a faster rate because the lower interest rates are eating into banks' revenues from government bonds.’
  • eat someone up

    • Dominate the thoughts of someone completely.

      ‘I'm eaten up with guilt’
      • ‘That would be too much of a luxury, besides, guilt would eat me up.’
      • ‘I didn't want hate to eat me up - I didn't want to become a man-basher or hate a whole religion because of one monk.’
      • ‘‘If you take it too seriously it's going to eat you up,’ the Brisbane swimmer said.’
      • ‘If I go through the rest of my life hating the people who killed my son and letting that eat me up and destroy me, that will happen to my children too.’
      • ‘The guilt continued to grow and eat me up inside for all the innocent beings I had been part of killing for so long.’
      • ‘That's not something I'm proud of, not something I'd not dearly love to change someday, not something that doesn't quietly eat me up.’
      • ‘You want to be there the whole time, it just eats you up inside when you're not there.’
      • ‘It's important that when you're not working you live a life, because it can eat you up inside and you just do job after job after job.’
      • ‘I've been sober for ten years, had small children and know the guilt and how that can eat you up so hang in there.’
      • ‘Yet, finally her inner loneliness is eating her up, the feeling that she belongs nowhere, an outcast among the outcastes.’
      absorb, preoccupy, engross
      View synonyms
  • eat something up

    • 1Use resources or time in very large quantities.

      ‘an operating system that eats up 200Mb of disk space’
      • ‘You're saying that anti-war voices can't get on cable TV, because so much air time is eaten up by administration officials?’
      • ‘I had intended to do some work on the book, sort out my buildings insurance and washing machine repair cover, but somehow the day has been eaten up with other things.’
      • ‘But we moved in a budget year where we hadn't planned to move, so there were problems with the cost of moving and renovations, and any surplus was eaten up by the old space.’
      • ‘The administrative resources of voluntary organizations are eaten up by site visits from auditors, sometimes different teams from the same department who have no knowledge of the other's visit.’
      • ‘The problem is that he fears his profits will be eaten up by the taxman unless his spending increases with his earning.’
      • ‘Also, because of the requirements of the shelters, a good portion of each day is eaten up when getting processed.’
      • ‘All of the city's loose change for the next three years will be eaten up by the police.’
      • ‘Smith said much of his small budget is eaten up with weed control on the 140 hectares of wild space.’
      • ‘Bad inheritance planning can mean your legacy is eaten up by probate taxes, solicitor's fees and charges.’
      • ‘Advance purchase is advised - otherwise, your savings will be eaten up.’
      1. 1.1Encroach on something.
        ‘this is the countryside that villagers fear will be eaten up by concrete’
        • ‘With many of the old roadside spaces eaten up by development, there was a move towards the towns.’
        • ‘Nearly all the reclaimed land made available by the construction of the Aswan Dam has been eaten up by insatiable urban sprawl.’
        • ‘Now so much of it is eaten up by concrete, and the rest has become a slum.’
        • ‘With more and more ground being eaten up by multi-storey buildings, green space is fast sinking in the city.’
        • ‘He whispered it again - war is coming - and then slipped off like a shadow does when darkness eats it up.’
        • ‘In 1699, he asked Louvois to compensate a poor man with eight children whose land had been eaten up by the citadel of Pinerolo.’
  • eat away at (or eat something away)

    • 1Erode or destroy something gradually.

      ‘the sun and wind eat away at the ice’
      ‘prevents bone from being eaten away’
      • ‘In that time literally millions of bombs have rained down on the soft Holderness earth - and now they are all being exposed as the cliffs are eaten away by the sea.’
      • ‘The timbers have been eaten away by what Mr Fox calls ‘radioactive seepage’.’
      • ‘The stone blocks had been eaten away by time and now were only a shadow of their former glory.’
      • ‘If I don't make the initial effort, nobody bothers with me and that sucks and it's eating away at me.’
      • ‘He swallowed hard, preparing to admit something that had bothered him for the past seven years, eating away at his insides.’
      • ‘The front porch had collapsed at one end where the supports had been eaten away by the fire and what looked like a bundle of rags had been wrapped around a post flanking the steps.’
      • ‘‘I learned a long time ago that you can't let a big loss eat away at you,’ the coach said.’
      • ‘Going into the room he expected to step on carpet but found that the carpet had been eaten away and in places there were only the bare floorboards underneath.’
      • ‘He wants to eat away at some of the more annoying kinds of brakes that can be applied to a measure along its legislative journey.’
      • ‘It seems everywhere that two apples rub up against each other, the skin has been eaten away by a worm.’
      1. 1.1Use up (profits, resources, or time), especially when they are intended for other purposes.
        ‘inflation can eat away at the annuity's value over the years’
        • ‘Each of those planes will eat away at BA's European market.’
        • ‘Offering salespeople the right incentives to sell offshore deals eats away at lucrative margins.’
        • ‘There is some truth in the accusation that the offshore world eats away at government revenue.’
        • ‘Interest inflation, that is, is eating away at your returns every day.’
        • ‘They are awarded in addition to monies granted for works on the ground so will not eat away at the £ 2.3m ring-fenced for capital improvements.’
        • ‘It eats away at self confidence which is a problem all of the girls my age are having.’
        • ‘This would be a real achievement, for nothing eats away at public confidence more than corruption.’
        • ‘There's something eating away at the global economy, creatures chomping through trillions of dollars.’
        • ‘Bad investments usually subject investors to gut-wrenching volatility, while often eating away at their capital.’
        • ‘His wife takes in work as a seamstress and bakes to help support the family, as they eat away at their savings.’
        erode, corrode, abrade, wear away, wear away at, wear down, wear through, gnaw away, gnaw away at, bite into, burn into, burn through, consume, dissolve, disintegrate, crumble, waste away, rot, decay
        View synonyms


Old English etan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch eten and German essen, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin edere and Greek edein.