One’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach

One’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach is an idiom that may be older than you think. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, 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 have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, on the ball, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, 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 phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom one’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

One’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach is a phrase used when someone has more food on his plate than he can eat. There are many different situations where one may say that one’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach. For instance, one may be greedy and take more than a normal portion of food. One may enjoy a certain dish and take more than is feasible to eat in one sitting. One may not like the food before him and beg off eating it by saying his eyes are bigger than his stomach. On occasion, the expression is used in a figurative sense, to mean having bigger ambitions than one is capable of fulfilling. The idiom one’s eyes are bigger than one’s stomach originated in the 1500s; then the phrase was one’s eyes are bigger than one’s belly, a variant that is still used in British English.


I thought I made a mistake, a classic case of having eyes bigger than my stomach. (The Daily Herald)

If Michael Gilbert has one regret about the early stages of his company it might be having “eyes bigger than my stomach.” (Business in Vancouver)

However, Prince William clearly has eyes bigger than his stomach as choosing what they’re going to tuck into can be a nightmare. (Marie Claire Magazine)

Although he has quick feet/hands to shoot gaps, his eyes are bigger than his stomach and he doesn’t have a deep tool box as a rusher, relying more on his first step and motor. (The Dallas Morning News)

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