eat crow

Idioms & Phrases

eat crow

Also, eat dirt or humble pie. Be forced to admit a humiliating mistake, as in When the reporter got the facts all wrong, his editor made him eat crow. The first term's origin has been lost, although a story relates that it involved a War of 1812 encounter in which a British officer made an American soldier eat part of a crow he had shot in British territory. Whether or not it is true, the fact remains that crow meat tastes terrible. The two variants originated in Britain. Dirt obviously tastes bad. And humble pie alludes to a pie made from umbles, a deer's undesirable innards (heart, liver, entrails). [Early 1800s] Also see eat one's words.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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