eat at


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eat (away) at (someone or something)

1. To continually bother or worry someone. The precarious state of my finances has really begun to eat at me. I'm worried that your critical comments have begun to eat away at Tiffany—she seems very subdued these days.
2. To erode or wear something away. Don't use that harsh cleaner—it will eat away at a soft metal like this.
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eat (away) at someone

Fig. [for a problem] to trouble someone constantly. The nasty situation at work began to eat away at me. Nagging worries ate at me day and night.
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eat (away) at something

Fig. to erode something. The acid ate away at the metal floor. Fingers have a mild acid that eats at the metal of the door handle.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Technically speaking, you're not skipping the meal if you eat at your desk, hit a drive-thru or log onto the Internet and have one of those new lunch delivery services drop something off at your office.