The term feeding frenzy is an idiom, and like most idioms, it was first used in a literal sense. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. 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. An idiom can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the definition of the expression feeding frenzy, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
The original, literal meaning of the term feeding frenzy is an aggressive, excited attack by a predator upon its prey. Usually, a feeding frenzy involves more than one predator competing for a school or group of prey. The term feeding frenzy is most often applied to sharks, including shark species such as the tiger shark, hammerhead shark, mako shark, and great white shark. Shark bites may be fatal to vulnerable people such as divers, surf fisherman and surfers. Scientists often provoke a shark attack by feeding bait to the sharks underwater while the scientists are protected by a shark cage. This type of encounter is usually filmed, and may involve a bite to the steel cage from the dangerous creature. The term feeding frenzy to mean an aggressive, excited attack by a predator upon its prey first came into use in the mid-twentieth century. Within twenty years the expression feeding frenzy took on a figurative meaning. As an idiom, feeding frenzy describes a period of outsized excitement over a particular person, occurrence, phenomenon or other point of interest. The expression feeding frenzy is often applied to journalism, in a situation in which many reporters are chasing the same news story. Feeding frenzy is also used to mean a situation in which many people are competing for the same thing. For instance, a store sale which involves limited quantities may attract many shoppers, resulting in fierce competition for those limited quantities. The word frenzy is derived from the Old French word frenesie, which means madness.
ExamplesA boatman had a close shave when a hungry great white shark flew into a feeding frenzy just inches from him. (The Mirror)
“One of the main factors of how the feeding frenzy started was the defense feeding off our offense’s start,” Sanford said during his weekly news conference Monday. (The Bowling Green Daily News)
It certainly helped Brendan Jones enjoy a feeding frenzy as the Canberra golfer shot himself into contention of the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan on Saturday. (The Sydney Morning Herald)
In the midst of the media feeding frenzy over Justice Kavanaugh, Mr. Avenatti positioned himself as an outspoken critic of due process by suggesting that for the sake of women’s rights all claims against Kavanaugh should be believed in spite of the lack of any corroborating evidence. (The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise)