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[eet] /it/
verb (used with object), ate [eyt; especially British et] /eɪt; especially British ɛt/ (Show IPA) or (Archaic) eat [et, eet] /ɛt, it/ (Show IPA), eaten or (Archaic) eat [et, eet] /ɛt, it/ (Show IPA), eating.
to take into the mouth and swallow for nourishment; chew and swallow (food).
to consume by or as if by devouring gradually; wear away; corrode:
The patient was eaten by disease and pain.
to make (a hole, passage, etc.), as by gnawing or corrosion.
to ravage or devastate:
a forest eaten by fire.
to use up, especially wastefully; consume (often followed by up):
Unexpected expenses have been eating up their savings.
to absorb or pay for:
The builder had to eat the cost of the repairs.
Slang: Vulgar. to perform cunnilingus or fellatio on.
verb (used without object), ate [eyt; especially British et] /eɪt; especially British ɛt/ (Show IPA) or (Archaic) eat [et, eet] /ɛt, it/ (Show IPA), eaten or (Archaic) eat [et, eet] /ɛt, it/ (Show IPA), eating.
to consume food; take a meal:
We'll eat at six o'clock.
to make a way, as by gnawing or corrosion:
Acid ate through the linoleum.
eats, Informal. food.
Verb phrases
eat away/into, to destroy gradually, as by erosion:
For eons, the pounding waves ate away at the shoreline.
eat out, to have a meal at a restaurant rather than at home.
eat up,
  1. to consume wholly.
  2. to show enthusiasm for; take pleasure in:
    The audience ate up everything he said.
  3. to believe without question.
be eating someone, Informal. to worry, annoy, or bother:
Something seems to be eating him—he's been wearing a frown all day.
eat crow. crow1 (def 7).
eat high off the hog. hog (def 16).
eat humble pie. humble pie (def 3).
eat in, to eat or dine at home.
eat one's heart out. heart (def 26).
eat one's terms. term (def 17).
eat one's words. word (def 16).
eat out of one's hand. hand (def 49).
eat someone out of house and home, to eat so much as to strain someone's resources of food or money:
A group of hungry teenagers can eat you out of house and home.
eat someone's lunch, Slang. to thoroughly defeat, outdo, injure, etc.
eat the wind out of, Nautical. to blanket (a sailing vessel sailing close-hauled) by sailing close on the weather side of.
Origin of eat
before 900; Middle English eten, Old English etan; cognate with German essen, Gothic itan, Latin edere
Related forms
eater, noun
outeat, verb (used with object), outate, outeaten, outeating.
undereat, verb (used without object), underate, undereaten, undereating. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for eating away
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A soft south wind was blowing, eating away the remaining patches of snow; the sky was full of fleecy clouds.

    A Little Journey in the World Charles Dudley Warner
  • Here it rests for a time, eating away at the best it can find.

    The Story of the Cotton Plant Frederick Wilkinson
  • Even Silver, eating away, with Captain Flint upon his shoulder, had not a word of blame for their reck208lessness.

    The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Rouletabille was eating away now at strange viands that it would have been difficult for him to name.

    The Secret of the Night Gaston Leroux
  • Inch by inch it was eating away a board walk which led to a pier and a boat tied to it.

    The Wishing Well Mildred A. Wirt
  • Into this crack the heavy rain of the night had swept, eating away the last puny tie which held the two parts together.

    A Summer's Outing Carter H. Harrison
  • The disease, eating away his life, had diminished that revolt against death which is in the healthy flesh of every man.

  • She seated herself close to her children, and was eating away when her brother came round serving ghee.

    Deccan Nursery Tales Charles Augustus Kincaid
  • But all the guests, inasmuch as they were eating away from home, had to be more particular.

    Hints to Pilgrims Charles Stephen Brooks
British Dictionary definitions for eating away


verb eats, eating, ate, eaten
to take into the mouth and swallow (food, etc), esp after biting and chewing
(transitive; often foll by away or up) to destroy as if by eating: the damp had eaten away the woodwork
(often foll by into) to use up or waste: taxes ate into his inheritance
often foll by into or through. to make (a hole, passage, etc) by eating or gnawing: rats ate through the floor
to take or have (a meal or meals): we always eat at six
(transitive) to include as part of one's diet: he doesn't eat fish
(transitive) (informal) to cause to worry; make anxious: what's eating you?
(transitive) (slang) to perform cunnilingus or fellatio upon
(informal) I'll eat my hat if, I will be greatly surprised if (something happens that proves me wrong)
eat one's heart out, to brood or pine with grief or longing
eat one's words, to take back something said; recant; retract
eat out of someone's hand, to be entirely obedient to someone
eat someone out of house and home, to ruin someone, esp one's parent or one's host, by consuming all his food
See also eat out, eats, eat up
Derived Forms
eater, noun
Word Origin
Old English etan; related to Gothic itan, Old High German ezzan, Latin edere, Greek edein, Sanskrit admi


Tanzania (international car registration)
Word Origin
from E(ast) A(frica) T(anganyika) or E(ast) A(frica) Z(anzibar)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for eating away



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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eating away in Medicine

eat (ēt)
v. ate (āt), eat·en (ēt'n), eat·ing, eats

  1. To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption.

  2. To consume, ravage, or destroy by or as if by ingesting, such as by a disease.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for eating away



  1. To preoccupy or upset; engross; fret: She asked what was eating me when I frowned so (1893+)
  2. To be forced to swallow or recant something: He mouths off a lot, and lately has had to eat many of his grand pronouncements (1382+)
  3. To be unable to pass the ball along: They blitzed and the quarterback had to eat the ball (1970s+ Sports)
  4. To accept and enjoy; eat up, SWALLOW something: You really eat this shit, don't you? (1919+)
  5. (also eat up) To do fellatio or cunnilingus; GO DOWN ON someone: So Little Red Riding Hood said to the wolf ''Eat me'' (1916+)
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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Related Abbreviations for eating away


earnings after taxes
Tanzania (international vehicle ID)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with eating away
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

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