eat alive

eat (one) alive

1. To bite one excessively, as of insects. If you're out here at dusk, the mosquitos will eat you alive.
2. To overwhelm or easily defeat one as a result of being more aggressive, powerful, skilled, etc. Our team isn't very good, and I'm worried that the competition at this level will eat us alive. Lena is so meek, I worry about her moving to the city. They're going to eat her alive.
3. To criticize one harshly. The teacher will eat you alive if you come in without your homework again today.
4. To cause one significant physical or emotional pain. Even though it's been a while, I think memories of that accident are still eating him alive.
See also: alive, eat
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

eat (someone) alive

To overwhelm or defeat thoroughly: an inexperienced manager who was eaten alive in a competitive corporate environment.
See also: alive, eat
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Paul Rogers, director of the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, sounded a warning aimed at the true believers at a recent Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference: software maintenance costs could eat alive ground robot budgets.
Duterte threatened to eat alive the Abu Sayyaf bandits behind the abduction and beheadings of two Vietnamese sailors in a furious reaction to the killings.
"These are six-inch-long beetles that you pull out of the water and eat alive. You bite into them, and meanwhile their heads are trying to bite you.