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.
See also: eat
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
See also: eat

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.
See also: eat
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
In other words, the risk is lower in people who eat at least that much.
The government has long been involved in what our children eat at school and how much they exercise.
This is a sign that your body needs to eat at this time in order to keep up.
adults eat at least three servings of whole grains daily.
I'd be too upset to eat at home because my parents were always bickering at the dinning room table.
Since the great majority of people leaning green eat at least some meat, alienating them with vegetarian absolutism is anathema.