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Old English etan (class V strong verb; past tense æt, past participle eten) "to eat, devour, consume," from Proto-Germanic *etanan (cf. Old Frisian ita, Old Saxon etan, Middle Dutch eten, Dutch eten, Old High German ezzan, German essen, Old Norse eta, Gothic itan), from PIE root *ed- "to eat" (see edible).
Transferred sense of "slow, gradual corrosion or destruction" is from 1550s. Meaning "to preoccupy, engross" (as in what's eating you?) first recorded 1893. Slang sexual sense of "do cunnilingus on" is first recorded 1927. Eat out "dine away from home" is from 1933. The slang phrase to eat one's words is from 1570s; to eat one's heart out is from 1590s; for eat one's hat, see hat.
v. ate (āt), eat·en (ēt'n), eat·ing, eats
To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption.
To consume, ravage, or destroy by or as if by ingesting, such as by a disease.
The ancient Hebrews would not eat with the Egyptians (Gen. 43:32). In the time of our Lord they would not eat with Samaritans (John 4:9), and were astonished that he ate with publicans and sinners (Matt. 9:11). The Hebrews originally sat at table, but afterwards adopted the Persian and Chaldean practice of reclining (Luke 7:36-50). Their principal meal was at noon (Gen. 43:16; 1 Kings 20:16; Ruth 2:14; Luke 14:12). The word "eat" is used metaphorically in Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 3:1; Rev. 10:9. In John 6:53-58, "eating and drinking" means believing in Christ. Women were never present as guests at meals (q.v.).