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eat someone alive

Overwhelm or defeat someone thoroughly, make short work of someone. For example, Lacking experience in manufacturing, he was eaten alive by his competitors. This slangy hyperbole dates from the early 1900s. A newer slangy variant is eat someone's lunch, dating from the mid-1900s. For example, It was a decisive victory; he ate the incumbent's lunch.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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