Eating out of someone’s hand is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying eating out of someone’s hand, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
Eating out of someone’s hand means to be manipulated, to be under another’s control, to be subservient to someone. The idiom is most often rendered in reference to the person who is doing to the controlling; to have someone eating out of one’s hand. The image is of a tame animal, which may be trained to peacefully eat out of its master’s hand. Related phrases are has someone eating out of one’s hand, had someone eating out of ones’ hand, having someone eating out of one’s hand. The expression eating out of someone’s hand came into popular use in the early 1900s.
Numbers don’t mean much when Trump has the GOP leadership in the Senate eating out of his hand while the Supreme Court and the DOJ does his bidding. (The Delaware County Daily Times)
It came during the 1988 Final Four in Kansas City, when Tubbs had the national media eating out of his hand. (The Omaha World Herald)
Come chapter 19 of A Royal Romance, I had the prince eating out of my hand, had won the approval of the Cordonian press and people, and had secured a few allies at court. (Stylist Magazine)