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From Middle English eten, from Old English etan ("to eat"), from Proto-Germanic *etan? ("to eat"), from Proto-Indo-European *h?édti, from *h?ed- ("to eat").


  • (UK) IPA(key): /i:t/
  • (US) IPA(key): /it/
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  • Rhymes: -i:t


eat (third-person singular simple present eats, present participle eating, simple past ate or (dialectal) et or (obsolete) eat, past participle eaten or (dialectal) etten)

  1. To ingest; to be ingested.
    1. (transitive, intransitive) To consume (something solid or semi-solid, usually food) by putting it into the mouth and swallowing it.
      He's eating an apple. / Don't disturb me now; can't you see that I'm eating?
      • 1892, Walter Besant, chapter II, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [...], OCLC 16832619:
        At twilight in the summer there is never anybody to fear--man, woman, or cat--in the chambers and at that hour the mice come out. They do not eat parchment or foolscap or red tape, but they eat the luncheon crumbs.
      • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
        But Richmond [...] appeared to lose himself in his own reflections. Some pickled crab, which he had not touched, had been removed with a damson pie; and his sister saw [...] that he had eaten no more than a spoonful of that either.
    2. (intransitive) To consume a meal.
      What time do we eat this evening?
    3. (intransitive, ergative) To be eaten.
      It's a soup that eats like a meal.
      • 1852, The New Monthly Magazine (page 310)
        I don't know any quarter in England where you get such undeniable mutton—mutton that eats like mutton, instead of the nasty watery, stringy, turnipy stuff, neither mutton nor lamb, that other countries are inundated with.
      • 1863, Sheridan Le Fanu, The House by the Churchyard
        [...] dish him [the fish] with slices of oranges, barberries, grapes, gooseberries, and butter; and you will find that he eats deliriously either with farced pain or gammon pain.
  2. To use up.
    1. (transitive) To destroy, consume, or use up.
      This project is eating up all the money.
    2. (transitive, informal, of a device) To damage, destroy, or fail to eject a removable part or an inserted object.
      The VHS recorder just ate the tape and won't spit it out.
      John is late for the meeting because the photocopier ate his report.
    3. (transitive, informal, of a vending machine or similar device) To consume money or (other instruents of value, such as a token) deposited or inserted by a user, while failing to either provide the intended product or service, or return the payment.
      The video game in the corner just ate my quarter.
      • From the movie Slap Shot
        Hey! This stupid [soda vending] machine ate my quarter.
  3. (transitive, informal) To cause (someone) to worry.
    What's eating you?
  4. (transitive, business) To take the loss in a transaction.
    • From the movie Midnight Run
      I have to have him in court tomorrow, if he doesn't show up, I forfeit the bond and I have to eat the $300,000.
    • 1999, Ronald S. Beitman, Liquor Liability: A Primer for Winning Your Case (page 27)
      The server made an error when taking the order. The bartender prepared two scorpion bowls. When the error was realized the bartender was faced with having to "eat" the extra scorpion bowl [...]
    • 2011, Lorenzo Carver, Venture Capital Valuation: Case Studies and Methodology
      When they were doing it with the valuation professionals, they were billing the client, but the valuation professional in a lot of those early cases had to eat the cost of showing the auditor how the auditors' test model was incorrect.
  5. (transitive, intransitive) To corrode or erode.
    The acid rain ate away the statue.  The strong acid eats through the metal.
  6. (transitive, informal) To perform oral sex.
    1. (transitive, informal) To perform oral sex on someone.
      Eat me!
    2. (transitive, informal) To perform oral sex on a body part.
      I ate his ass.
      Yeah, eat that dick.


Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See also


eat (plural eats)

  1. (colloquial) Something to be eaten; a meal; a food item.
    • 2011, William Chitty, ?Nigel Barker, ?Michael Valos, Integrated Marketing Communications (page 167)
      Eating a Picnic creates a flurry of wafer pieces, flying peanuts and chocolate crumbs. [...] As well as being messy, Picnic happens to be a big eat - something of a consumption challenge in fact.






  1. third-person singular present active subjunctive of e?

Northern Sami


  • (Kautokeino) IPA(key): /'ea?h(t)/



  1. first-person plural present of ii

West Frisian




  1. something, anything
    Antonym: neat

Further reading

  • "eat", in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011

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