Eat Crow – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

You’re in luck if you’re looking for a fun phrase to spice up your vocabulary because I’m serving up the idiom eat crow on a giant plate. Nope, we’re not talking about literally having a crow on your dinner plate. This expression is more about a side dish of humility. Ready to dig in?

Eat Crow Meaning Explained

Eat Crow – Meaning Origin

If someone is said to be eating crow, they aren’t indulging in some exotic cuisine, even though I wouldn’t say crow is exactly exotic. They’re actually being forced to admit a mistake or wrongdoing, usually in a way that’s humiliating or unwelcome. We use the phrase when someone has been overly confident or arrogant about their position but has been clearly proven wrong.

Eat Crow Origin and Etymology

Eat Crow Ngram
Eat crow usage trend.

The term eat crow is uniquely American in origin. Its first known use dates back to the 19th century when eating a crow required intense boiling to make it palatable. But, even then, it was like eating garbage because they’re carrion-eating birds, so their meat is disgusting.

But there are tons of theories and stories about how this saying came to be. Some claim it came about during the early 19th century with hunting parties. They’d make bets on who’d get the most kills, and the loser had to shoot and eat a crow.

There’s also a running joke from the 1800s where a man said he could literally eat anything, and to settle a bet, he agreed to eat crow meat. He had a hard time swallowing his words as well as the meat but suffered through it just to prove his point.

So, no one really knows its exact origin, but the saying has the same meaning in every story.

Synonyms for Eat Crow

Don’t feel like using a bird euphuism? Try one of these alternatives to eat crow, then.

  • Swallow one’s pride
  • Eat humble pie
  • Eat dirt
  • Bite the bullet
  • Admit one’s humiliating mistake

Eat Crow Examples in a Sentence

Eat Crow – Meaning Origin 1

Here’s a feast of full sentences that demonstrate how to use the expression eat crow.

  • After falsely accusing his colleague, he had to eat crow in front of his boss.
  • He made such confident predictions about the election results, but when they were wrong, he had to eat crow.
  • I don’t mind eating crow when I’m wrong, and I was definitely wrong about that movie’s success.
  • The CEO had to eat crow and admit that the company’s latest product was a failure.
  • She hates eating crow, so she double-checks her facts before making bold claims.
  • The critics had to eat crow when the play they trashed became a hit.
  • I thought the project was a waste of time, but I had to eat crow when it was a resounding success.
  • After talking up his cooking skills, he had to eat crow when he burned the dinner.
  • He never thought she’d leave him. Now, he’s eating crow.
  • She was so sure of her victory that she had to eat crow when she lost.

Steer Clear of Crow Meat

There you have it! Now, you can confidently use the phrase eat crow in your conversations. It’s an interesting idiom that definitely adds color and character to language, isn’t it? You don’t want to be on the wrong end of this phrase, so watch your words! Be sure to read over my other guides on idioms just like this one!

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