con·sume | \ kən-ˈsüm \
consumed; consuming

Definition of consume 

transitive verb

1 : to do away with completely : destroy Fire consumed several buildings.

2a : to spend wastefully : squander consumed his inheritance on luxuries

b : use up Writing consumed much of his time.

3a : to eat or drink especially in great quantity consumed several bags of pretzels

b : to enjoy avidly : devour … mysteries, which she consumes for fun … —Eden Ross Lipson

4 : to engage fully : engross consumed with curiosity

5 : to utilize as a customer consume goods and services

intransitive verb

1 : to waste or burn away : perish

2 : to utilize economic goods

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Synonyms & Antonyms for consume


absorb, burn, deplete, devour, drain, draw down, exhaust, expend, play out, spend, use up


renew, replace

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Examples of consume in a Sentence

The new lights consume less electricity. She's making an effort to live more simply and consume less. Hundreds of books were consumed in the fire.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The emissions add up: Ammonia production consumes about 2% of the world's energy and generates 1% of its CO2. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018 The method is time-consuming and difficult, limiting its use. Gina Kolata, New York Times, "Swift Gene-Editing Method May Revolutionize Treatments for Cancer and Infectious Diseases," 11 July 2018 Farming is difficult, time-consuming, and often financially prohibitive work. Aubrey Nagle,, "ICE protester sues Philly police, young Pa. farmers shake up industry | Morning Newsletter," 11 July 2018 Differences by amount of coffee consumed and genetic variations were minimal. Lindsey Tanner,, "Fresh grounds for coffee: Study shows it may boost longevity," 3 July 2018 The day raging flames consumed acres of dry scrub and engulfed the desert hills, spreading until a wall of fire trapped 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Bayan Wang, azcentral, "Prescott, still healing, honors 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots five years later," 30 June 2018 But environmental regulation has for decades been making household tasks more difficult, time-consuming and expensive. James Freeman, WSJ, "The Dishwasher Rebellion," 27 June 2018 China spent more than $48 billion across East Asia and the Pacific between 2000 and 2016 to reward countries that consume its products and support its foreign policy positions, a new report has found. Jason Koutsoukis,, "China Spends Big to Win Friends and Influence Across East Asia," 27 June 2018 Today, the average human consumes almost $14,000 worth of goods and services each year, and the desperately poor who live on $2 to $3 dollars a day has shrunk to perhaps 1 billion. Michael Hicks, Indianapolis Star, "Hicks: We've got it good, and we don't even know it," 24 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'consume.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of consume

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for consume

Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French consumer, from Latin consumere, from com- + sumere to take up, take, from sub- up + emere to take — more at sub-, redeem

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Statistics for consume

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for consume

The first known use of consume was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for consume



English Language Learners Definition of consume

: to eat or drink (something)

: to use (fuel, time, resources, etc.)

: to destroy (something) with fire


con·sume | \ kən-ˈsüm \
consumed; consuming

Kids Definition of consume

1 : to destroy by or as if by fire

2 : to eat or drink up

3 : to use up consume electricity Our entire day was consumed searching for his glasses.

4 : to take up the interest or attention of Curiosity consumed the crowd.

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Comments on consume

What made you want to look up consume? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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