\ ˈēt How to pronounce eat (audio) \
ate\ ˈāt How to pronounce eat (audio) , dialectal or British  ˈet \; eaten\ ˈē-​tᵊn How to pronounce eat (audio) \; eating

Essential Meaning of eat

1 : to take food into your mouth and swallow it You'll feel better if you eat something. I ate a big breakfast so I'm not very hungry. See More ExamplesLet's grab a bite to eat. = Let's get something to eat. I've been trying to watch what I eat. [=to be more careful about eating healthy foods and not eating too much] I'm hungry. Let's eat. They like to eat at home. It's important to eat right. [=to eat healthy foods]Hide
2 : to gradually destroy, use, or take away something : to wear something away
3 informal : to bother or annoy (someone) What's eating you?

Full Definition of eat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to take in through the mouth as food : ingest, chew, and swallow in turn
2a : to destroy, consume, or waste by or as if by eating expenses ate up the profits gadgets that eat up too much space
b : to bear the expense of : take a loss on the team was forced to eat the rest of his contract
3a : to consume gradually : corrode cars eaten away by rust
b : to consume with vexation : bother what's eating you now
4 : to enjoy eagerly or avidly : lap used with up it was an amazing performance and the crowd ate it up
5 usually vulgar : to perform fellatio or cunnilingus on often used with out

intransitive verb

1 : to take food or a meal
2 : to affect something by gradual destruction or consumption usually used with into, away, or at the loss was really eating at herthe controversy ate into his support
eat alive
: to defeat, conquer, or overwhelm completely : crush was eaten alive by the competition
eat one out of house and home
: to consume more than one can easily provide or afford
eat one's heart out
1 : to grieve bitterly
2 : to be jealous
eat one's words
: to retract what one has said
eat out of one's hand
: to accept the domination of another
eat someone's lunch
: to deprive of profit, dominance, or success



Definition of eat (Entry 2 of 2)

: something to eat : food usually used in plural

Other Words from eat


eater noun

Examples of eat in a Sentence

Verb You'll feel better if you eat something. I ate a big breakfast so I'm not very hungry. They like to eat at home.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Eating it: Some folks spoon directly into their mouths. Ann Maloney,, 19 July 2017 New this year to True Nature is a retreat for those with eating disorders and their family members. Plain Dealer Guest Writer,, 19 July 2017 However hot dogs may have originated, the council estimates Americans will eat 7 billion of them between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Don Sweeney, sacbee, 19 July 2017 In fact, a recent survey showed that 36% of Chick-fil-A dinner customers take their meal to go from restaurants to eat at home. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 19 July 2017 The casual restaurant and bar also offers an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at 8 a.m. Sundays. Vickie Snow Jurkowski, Daily Southtown, 19 July 2017 Miami was last in the NFL at 57 plays per game last season partly because the offense didn’t convert effectively on third downs, but also because the porous run defense allowed opponents to eat up the clock. Chris Perkins,, 19 July 2017 Parents and their children can bring a lunch to eat during the program. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, 18 July 2017 Hammerhead worms contain the same toxin as blowfish and can be harmful if eaten. Liz Langley, National Geographic, 15 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Squid Game grapples with the dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all aspects of capitalism. Andy Meek, BGR, 27 Nov. 2021 And with the coronavirus pandemic seemingly on the wane, 2021 may be the year that restaurants see Thanksgiving come alive again, not just for takeout, but for eat-in, too. Susan Dunne,, 9 Nov. 2021 That also applies to the huge eat-in chef’s kitchen and vast family room, where French doors lead out to a large patio and the pool. Howard Walker, Robb Report, 26 Oct. 2021 There’s a formal dining room and a gourmet eat-in kitchen. Kiersten Willis, ajc, 22 Oct. 2021 The northern portion also includes a formal dining room, with a terrace, the powder rooms, and a large eat-in kitchen clad completely in stainless steel, as well as wine storage. Vivian Marino, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2021 The open-plan design makes for spacious living areas and a large eat-in kitchen. Howard Walker, Robb Report, 5 Oct. 2021 Children 12 and under eat free from the kid’s menu Sundays, so make sure to bring the whole family. Ariel Cheung,, 4 Aug. 2021 Adult tickets are $25, children 4 to 12 attend for $10, and children under three eat for free., 29 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eat.' 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 eat


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for eat


Middle English eten, from Old English etan; akin to Old High German ezzan to eat, Latin edere, Greek edmenai


Middle English et, from Old English ǣt; akin to Old High German āz food; derivative from the root of eat entry 1

Learn More About eat

Time Traveler for eat

Time Traveler

The first known use of eat was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near eat

easy virtue



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Cite this Entry

“Eat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for eat


\ ˈēt How to pronounce eat (audio) \
ate\ ˈāt \; eaten\ ˈē-​tᵊn \; eating

Kids Definition of eat

1 : to chew and swallow food
2 : to take a meal Let's eat at home.
3 : to destroy as if by eating : corrode Acids ate away the metal.

Other Words from eat

eater noun


\ ˈēt How to pronounce eat (audio) \
ate\ ˈāt, chiefly British ˈet \; eaten\ ˈēt-​ᵊn How to pronounce eat (audio) \; eating

Medical Definition of eat

transitive verb

1 : to take in through the mouth as food : ingest, chew, and swallow in turn
2 : to consume gradually : corrode

intransitive verb

: to take food or a meal

More from Merriam-Webster on eat

Nglish: Translation of eat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eat for Arabic Speakers


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