AskDefine | Define eat

Dictionary Definition



1 take in solid food; "She was eating a banana"; "What did you eat for dinner last night?"
2 eat a meal; take a meal; "We did not eat until 10 P.M. because there were so many phone calls"; "I didn't eat yet, so I gladly accept your invitation"
3 take in food; used of animals only; "This dog doesn't eat certain kinds of meat"; "What do whales eat?" [syn: feed]
4 use up (resources or materials); "this car consumes a lot of gas"; "We exhausted our savings"; "They run through 20 bottles of wine a week" [syn: consume, eat up, use up, deplete, exhaust, run through, wipe out]
5 worry or cause anxiety in a persistent way; "What's eating you?" [syn: eat on]
6 cause to deteriorate due to the action of water, air, or an acid; "The acid corroded the metal"; "The steady dripping of water rusted the metal stopper in the sink" [syn: corrode, rust] [also: eaten, ate]

User Contributed Dictionary



etan, from Germanic *itan-, from Indo-European *h₁ed-. Cognate with Scots aet, Dutch eten, German essen, Swedish äta; and (from IE) with Ancient Greek ἔδω, Latin edō, Russian ем, Lithuanian ésti.


  • a UK /iːt/, /i:t/
  • a US /it/, /it/
  • Rhymes with: -iːt


  1. To consume (something solid or semi-solid, usually food) by putting it into the mouth and swallowing it.
    He’s eating an apple.
    Don’t disturb me now; can't you see I’m eating?
  2. To consume a meal.
    What time do we eat this evening?
  3. transitive colloquial To cause (someone) to worry.
    What’s eating you?
  4. transitive business To take the loss in a transaction
    It’s a special order, we can’t send it back; if the customer won’t accept it, we’ll have to eat the 40 tons of steel ourselves.


colloquial: cause to worry
eat a meal




Extensive Definition

In general terms, eating (formally, ingestion) is the process of consuming nutrition, i.e. food, for the purpose of providing for the nutritional needs of an animal, particularly their energy requirements and to grow. All animals must eat other organisms in order to survive: carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, and omnivores consume a mixture of both.
While the process of eating varies from species to species, in humans eating is performed by placing food in the mouth, chewing and then swallowing it. Eaten food is then digested.
Manners are an important aspect of social eating in almost all human societies.

Eating practices

Many homes have a separate kitchen room or outside (in the tropics) kitchen area devoted to preparation of meals and food, and many also have a dining room or another designated area for eating. Dishware, silverware, drinkware for eating and cookware and other implements for cooking come in an almost infinite array of forms and sizes. Most societies also have restaurants and food vendors, so that people may eat when away from home, lack the time to prepare food, or wish to use eating as a social occasion. Occasionally, such as at potlucks and food festivals, eating is in fact the primary purpose of the social gathering.
Most individuals have fairly regular meals, formally known as daily patterns of eating, and commonly most eating occurs during two to three meals per day, with snacks consisting of smaller amounts of food being consumed in between. Some nutritionists (eg BCM) however propose not to take any snacks, yet advocate the taking of 3 meals/day (of some 600 kcal per meal) with 4-6 hours recess in between . Having three well-balanced meals (thus 1/2th half of the plate with vegetables , 1/4th protein food as meat, ... and 1/4th carbohydrates as pasta, rice, ...) will then account to some 1800-2000 kcal; which is the average requirement for a regular person.
The issue of healthy eating has long been an important concern to individuals and cultures. Among other practices, fasting, dieting, and vegetarianism are all techniques employed by individuals and encouraged by societies to increase longevity and health. Some religions promote vegetarianism, considering it wrong to consume animals. Leading nutritionists believe that instead of indulging oneself in three large meals each day, it is much healthier and easier on the metabolism to eat five smaller meals each day (e.g. better digestion, easier on the lower intestine to deposit wastes; whereas larger meals are tougher on the digestive tract and may call for the use of laxatives). However, psychiatrists with Yale Medical School have found that people who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and consume three meals per day weigh less than those who have more frequent meals. Eating can also be a way of making money (see competitive eating). Pie and sometimes cheese eating contests are one of these competitions. Sometimes people eat on picnics with family or friends.
It is an urban legend that eating fast will make you fat. Studies has disproved the theory that the body cannot keep up with the pace of the food going into the digestive tract, and thus will store the food that it cannot process as fats or energy stores. This is unscientific, as all food that enters via the mouth must pass through the entire digestive system and be broken down into simpler, usable forms that the body can make use of. However, since it takes time (up to 30 minutes) for the brain to get a signal from stomach that it is full, eating fast may cause someone to eat more thereby consuming more calories than if they ate slower, leading to weight gain.


Physiologically, eating is generally triggered by hunger, but there are numerous physical and psychological conditions that can affect appetite and disrupt normal eating patterns. These include depression, food allergies, ingestion of certain chemicals, bulimia, anorexia nervosa, pituitary gland misfunction and other endocrine problems, and numerous other illnesses and eating disorders.
A chronic lack of nutritious food can cause various illnesses, and will eventually lead to starvation. When this happens in a locality on a massive scale it is considered a famine.
If eating and drinking is not possible, as is often the case when recovering from surgery, alternatives are enteral nutrition and parenteral nutrition.


eat in Spanish: Alimentación
eat in French: alimentation
eat in Italian: Alimentazione (nutrizione)
eat in Korean: 먹기
eat in Simple English: Edible
eat in Finnish: Syöminen
eat in Dutch: Eten
eat in Swedish: Ätande
eat in Tagalog: Pagkain (aktibidad)
eat in Yiddish: עסן
eat in Chinese: 進食
eat in Contenese: 食嘢

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ablate, absorb, assimilate, bite, bleed white, break bread, burn up, canker, consume, corrode, count calories, deplete, devour, diet, digest, disregard, dissolve, down, drain, drain of resources, drink, eat away, eat into, eat out, eat up, engorge, engulf, erode, etch, exhaust, expend, fall to, fare, feed, feed on, finish, finish off, gnaw, gobble, gobble up, gulp, gulp down, hunger, ignore, imbibe, impoverish, ingest, ingurgitate, meal, nibble away, oxidize, partake, partake of, pitch in, pocket, pocket the affront, relish, rust, savor, spend, squander, stomach, suck dry, swallow, swallow an insult, swallow up, swill, swill down, take, taste, turn aside provocation, use up, waste away, wear away, wolf down
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