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chew up the scenery

verb phrase

to overact, act melodramatically; also written [chew up scenery]

Word Origin

refers to actor's enthusiasm causing him or her to chew on the scenery

Usage Note

slang

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Slang definitions & phrases for chew up the scenery

chew up the scenery

verb phrase

To overact; ham: Beery and Lionel Barrymore chew up all the scenery that isn't nailed down/ Neeson doesn't chew up the scenery when he works

[1930s+ Show business; originally fr a 1930 theater review by Dorothy Parker : ''More glutton than artist, he commences to chew up the scenery''; in an 1881 glossary a loud actor is said to ''eat scenes,'' which may or may not be related]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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