verb (eats, eating, ate /, has eaten )
1 to put food in your mouth and swallow it:
Have you eaten all the chocolates?
Do you want something to eat?
2 to have a meal:
What time shall we eat?
eat out to have a meal in a restaurant:
We don't eat out very often.
eat S1 W1 /iːt/ BrE AmE verb (past tense ate /et, eɪt $ eɪt/, past participle eaten /ˈiːtn/)
[Language: Old English; Origin: etan]
1. FOOD [intransitive and transitive] to put food in your mouth and chew and swallow it:
Felix chatted cheerfully as he ate.
A small girl was eating an ice cream.
We had plenty to eat and drink.
It’s important to eat healthily when you are pregnant.
I exercise and eat right and get plenty of sleep.
Would you like something to eat?
She can eat like a horse and never put on weight.
We stopped at McDonalds to get a bite to eat.
Good eating habits are the best way of preventing infection.
ready-to-eat foods such as deli meats and cheeses
‘More cake?’ ‘No thanks, I couldn’t eat another thing.’
No chicken for me. I don’t eat meat (=I never eat meat).
Does Rob eat fish?
2. MEAL [intransitive and transitive] to have a meal:
Let’s eat first and then go to a movie.
They’re eating breakfast.
We could not afford to eat at Walker’s very often.
3. eat your words to admit that what you said was wrong:
I’m going to make you eat your words.
4. eat your heart out
a) used to say, especially humorously, that something is very good:
That’s a great drawing. Pablo Picasso eat your heart out!
b) British English to be unhappy about something or to want someone or something very much:
If you had any sense you’d forget him, but eat your heart out if you want to.
5. eat somebody alive/eat somebody for breakfast to be very angry with someone or to defeat them completely:
You can’t tell him that – he’ll eat you alive!
6. USE [transitive] to use a very large amount of something:
This car eats petrol.
7. eat humble pie (also eat crow American English) to admit that you were wrong and say that you are sorry
8. I’ll eat my hat used to emphasize that you think something is not true or will not happen:
If the Democrats win the election, I’ll eat my hat!
9. have somebody eating out of your hand to have made someone very willing to believe you or do what you want:
He soon had the client eating out of his hand.
10. eat somebody out of house and home to eat a lot of someone’s supply of food, so that they have to buy more – used humorously
11. what’s eating somebody? spoken used to ask why someone seems annoyed or upset:
What’s eating Sally today?
12. I could eat a horse spoken used to say you are very hungry
13. I/we won’t eat you spoken used to tell someone that you are not angry with them and they need not be frightened
14. you are what you eat used to say that you will be healthy if the food you eat is healthy
⇨ ↑eats, ⇨ have your cake and eat it at ↑cake1(6)
• • •
▪ eat breakfast/lunch/dinner etc What time do you usually eat lunch?
▪ eat well (=have enough food, or have good food) The people work hard, but they eat well.
▪ eat healthily/sensibly (=eat food that will keep you healthy) If you eat healthily and exercise regularly, you’ll look and feel a lot better.
▪ eat properly British English, eat right American English (=eat food that will keep you healthy) He hadn’t been eating properly and was drinking far too much.
▪ eat hungrily (=eat a lot quickly, because you are very hungry) The children ate hungrily, devouring everything on their plate.
▪ eat sparingly (=eat very little) Carter joined us for lunch, but ate sparingly, as he always did.
▪ have something/nothing to eat (=eat something/nothing) We’ll leave after we’ve had something to eat.
▪ have enough/plenty etc to eat Have you had enough to eat?
▪ have little to eat (=not have enough food) The refugees had very little to eat and no clean water.
▪ find something to eat I got dressed and went downstairs to find something to eat.
▪ get something to eat (=prepare or buy some food) I’m sure you can get something to eat on the train.
▪ sb’s eating habits (=the kinds of things they eat or drink regularly) The doctor asked me about my eating habits and how much I smoked.
▪ an eating disorder (=a mental illness which causes you to eat too much or too little) She described her battle with the eating disorder bulimia.
▪ a bite to eat (=a small meal) We should have time for a bite to eat before we set out.
▪ eat like a horse (=eat a lot) She eats like a horse but never puts on any weight!
▪ eat like a bird (=eat very little) Ever since she was a child, Jan had always eaten like a bird.
▪ I couldn’t eat another thing spoken (=used to say that you are completely full) Thanks, that was lovely, but I couldn’t eat another thing.
• • •
▪ eat to put food in your mouth and chew and swallow it: Experts recommend eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
▪ have to eat a particular food: ‘What do you usually have for breakfast?’ ‘I usually just have coffee and toast.’ | We had the set meal.
▪ feed on something to eat a particular kind of food – used when talking about animals: Foxes feed on a wide range of foods including mice, birds, insects, and fruit.
▪ consume written to eat or drink something – used especially in scientific or technical contexts: Babies consume large amounts relative to their body weight.
▪ munch (on) something to eat something with big continuous movements of your mouth, especially when you are enjoying your food: He was munching on an apple. | They were sitting on a bench munching their sandwiches.
▪ nibble (on) something to eat something by biting off very small pieces: If you want a healthy snack, why not just nibble on a carrot?
▪ pick at something to eat only a small amount of your food because you are not hungry or do not like the food: Lisa was so upset that she could only pick at her food.
▪ stuff/gorge yourself to eat so much food that you cannot eat anything else: He’s always stuffing himself with cakes. | We gorged ourselves on my mother’s delicious apple tart.
▪ slurp to eat soup, ↑noodles etc with a noisy sucking sound: In England it’s considered rude to slurp your soup, but in some countries it’s seen as a sign of enjoyment.
■ to eat something quickly
▪ gobble something up/down informal to eat something very quickly, especially because you like it very much or you are greedy: You’ve gobbled up all the ice-cream! | The children gobbled it down in no time.
▪ wolf something down informal to eat food quickly, especially because you are very hungry or in a hurry: The boy wolfed down everything on his plate and asked for more.
▪ bolt something down British English to eat food very quickly, especially because you are in a hurry: He bolted down his breakfast and was out of the door within 5 minutes. | You shouldn’t bolt your food down like that.
▪ devour /dɪˈvaʊə $ -ˈvaʊr/ especially written to eat all of something quickly because you are very hungry: In a very short time, the snake had devoured the whole animal.
■ to eat less food or stop eating
▪ be on a diet to be eating less or different food than normal in order to become thinner: No cake thanks – I’m on a diet.
▪ fast to not eat for a period of time, often for religious reasons: Muslim people fast during the month of Ramadan.
eat something ↔ away phrasal verb
to gradually remove or destroy something SYN erode:
The stones are being eaten away by pollution.
eat away at something/somebody phrasal verb
1. to gradually remove or reduce the amount of something:
His gambling was eating away at their income.
2. to make someone feel very worried over a long period of time:
The thought of mother alone like that was eating away at her.
eat in phrasal verb
to eat at home instead of in a restaurant
eat into something phrasal verb
1. to gradually reduce the amount of time, money etc that is available:
John’s university fees have been eating into our savings.
2. to gradually damage or destroy something:
Acid eats into the metal, damaging its surface.
eat out phrasal verb
to eat in a restaurant instead of at home:
Do you eat out a lot?
eat up phrasal verb
1. to eat all of something:
Come on, eat up, there’s a good girl.
eat something ↔ up
She’s made a cake and wants us to help eat it up.
2. eat something ↔ up informal to use a lot of something, especially until there is none left:
Big cars just eat up money.
3. be eaten up with/by jealousy/anger/curiosity etc to be very jealous, angry etc, so that you cannot think about anything else
eat [eat eats ate eating eaten] [iːt] [iːt] verb (ate [et] ; [eɪt] ; [eɪt] , eaten [ˈiːtn] ; [ˈiːtn] )
1. intransitive, transitive to put food in your mouth, chew it and swallow it
• I was too nervous to eat.
• She doesn't eat sensibly (= doesn't eat food that is good for her).
• ~ sth I don't eat meat.
• Would you like something to eat?
• I couldn't eat another thing (= I have had enough food).
2. intransitive to have a meal
• Where shall we eat tonight?
• We ate at a pizzeria in town.
more at have your cake and eat it (too) at cake n., (a case of) dog eat dog at dog n.
Idioms: I could eat a horse ▪ I'll eat my hat ▪ eat humble pie ▪ eat like a horse ▪ eat out of your hand ▪ eat somebody alive ▪ eat somebody out of house and home ▪ eat your heart out ▪ eat your heart out! ▪ eat your words ▪ eat, drink and be merry ▪ what's eating him, etc?
Derived: eat away at somebody ▪ eat into something ▪ eat out ▪ eat somebody up ▪ eat something away ▪ eat something up ▪ eat up
See also: eat crow
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.
1. I, T
• Eat your dinner.
have • • swallow • • taste • • finish • |informal wolf • • stuff • |formal consume • |especially written devour • |BrE, especially spoken tuck in/tuck into sth • |technical ingest •
eat/swallow/wolf down/stuff yourself with/consume/devour/tuck into your food
eat/have/finish/devour/tuck into a meal
eat/have/finish/wolf/tuck into your lunch/dinner
eat/have/taste/consume some meat/fruit
• We ate at the new restaurant in town.
formal dine • • lunch • • breakfast • |written feast •
eat/dine/lunch/breakfast at a place
dine/lunch/breakfast/feast on a particular food
Diet and exercise
put on/gain/lose weight/a few kilos/a few pounds
watch/control/struggle with your weight
be/become seriously overweight/underweight
be/become clinically/morbidly obese
achieve/facilitate/promote/stimulate weight loss
slim down to 70 kilos/(BrE) 11 stone/(especially NAmE) 160 pounds
develop/have/suffer from/struggle with/recover from anorexia/bulimia/an eating disorder
be on/go on/follow a crash/strict diet
have/suffer from a negative/poor body image
have/develop a positive/healthy body image
eat a balanced diet/healthily/sensibly
get/provide/receive adequate/proper nutrition
contain/get/provide essential nutrients/vitamins/minerals
be high/low in calories/fat/fibre/(especially US) fiber/protein/vitamin D/Omega-3 fatty acids
contain (no)/use/be full of/be free from additives/chemical preservatives/artificial sweeteners
avoid/cut down on/cut out alcohol/caffeine/fatty foods
stop/give up/ (especially NAmE) quit smoking
(BrE) take regular exercise
do moderate/strenuous/vigorous exercise
go to/visit/ (especially NAmE) hit/work out at the gym
strengthen/tone/train your stomach muscles
contract/relax/stretch/use/work your lower-body muscles
build (up)/gain muscle
improve/increase your stamina/energy levels/physical fitness
be/get/keep/stay healthy/in shape/(especially BrE) fit
lower your cholesterol/blood pressure
boost/stimulate/strengthen your immune system
prevent/reduce the risk of heart disease/high blood pressure/diabetes/osteoporosis
enhance/promote relaxation/physical and mental well-being
• Barton did not feel very hungry and ate sparingly.
• Come on, eat up your lunch.
• Do you have anything to eat?
• Do you want to grab a bite to eat?
• Everyone happily ate the huge meal.
• Go and get yourself something to eat and drink.
• He had not eaten properly for days.
• He'd barely eaten any breakfast.
• He's eating us out of house and home.
• He's not eating enough.
• I'm trying to eat more healthily.
• Let's go eat.
• She doesn't eat sensibly.
• She's very thin but she eats like a horse!
• Try and eat something. It will do you good.
• We ate very well most of the time.
• We eventually sat down to eat at 8.30 p.m.
• We went out to eat for a Chinese New Year celebration.
• You look good enough to eat!
• I can't be bothered to cook. Shall we eat out tonight?
• I couldn't eat another thing.
• I don't eat meat.
• You can eat really well without spending a fortune.
eat (ate, eaten) /iːt/
verb [I or T]
to put or take food into the mouth, chew it, and swallow it:
Do you eat meat?
When I've got a cold, I don't feel like eating.
We usually eat (= have a meal) at about 7 o'clock.
eatable /ˈiː.tə.bļ/ US /-ţə-/
describes food that is good enough to eat, though not excellent
eater /ˈiː.təʳ/ US /-ţɚ/
a big/good/small eater someone who always eats a lot/very little
eatery /ˈiː.tər.i/ US /-ţɚ.ri/
noun [C] INFORMAL
We met in a little eatery just off the main road.
plural noun INFORMAL
a small amount of food:
Would you like some eats?
(eats, eating, ate, eaten)
Frequency: The word is one of the 1500 most common words in English.
When you eat something, you put it into your mouth, chew it, and swallow it.
She was eating a sandwich...
We took our time and ate slowly.
VERB: V n, V
If you eat sensibly or healthily, you eat food that is good for you.
...a campaign to persuade people to eat more healthily.
VERB: V adv
If you eat, you have a meal.
Let’s go out to eat...
We ate lunch together a few times.
VERB: V, V n
If something is eating you, it is annoying or worrying you. (INFORMAL)
‘What the hell’s eating you?’ he demanded.
VERB: only cont, V n
If you have someone eating out of your hand, they are completely under your control.
She usually has the press eating out of her hand.
PHRASE: V and N inflect
to have your cake and eat it: see cake
dog eat dog: see dog
to eat humble pie: see humble