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To admit that one is wrong, usually when doing so triggers great embarrassment or shame. Ugh, now that my idea has failed, I'll have to eat crow in the board meeting tomorrow. I think Ellen is a perfectionist because the thought of having to eat crow terrifies her.
1. . Fig. to display total humility, especially when shown to be wrong. Well, it looks like I was wrong, and I'm going to have to eat crow. I'll be eating crow if I'm not shown to be right.
2. Fig. to be shamed; to admit that one was wrong. When it became clear that they had arrested the wrong person, the police had to eat crow. Mary talked to Joe as if he was an uneducated idiot, till she found out he was a college professor. That made her eat crow.
Also, eat dirt or humble pie . Be forced to admit a humiliating mistake, as in When the reporter got the facts all wrong, his editor made him eat crow. The first term's origin has been lost, although a story relates that it involved a War of 1812 encounter in which a British officer made an American soldier eat part of a crow he had shot in British territory. Whether or not it is true, the fact remains that crow meat tastes terrible. The two variants originated in Britain. Dirt obviously tastes bad. And humble pie alludes to a pie made from umbles, a deer's undesirable innards (heart, liver, entrails). [Early 1800s] Also see eat one's words.
If someone eats crow, they admit that they have been wrong and apologize. He wanted to make his critics eat crow. I didn't want to eat crow the rest of my life if my theories were wrong. Note: The usual British expression is eat humble pie.
eat crowbe humiliated by your defeats or mistakes. North American informal
In the USA ‘boiled crow’ has been a metaphor for something extremely disagreeable since the late 19th century.
tv. to display total humility, especially when shown to be wrong. Well, it looks like I was wrong, and I’m going to have to eat crow.
To be forced to accept a humiliating defeat.
eat crow/humble pie/dirt, to
To acknowledge an embarrassing error and humiliatingly abase oneself. All these expressions date from the early nineteenth century, eating crow from America and eating humble pie and dirt from Britain. The origin of the first is not known, although it is generally acknowledged that the meat of a crow tastes terrible. A story cited by Charles Funk and published in the Atlanta Constitution in 1888 claims that toward the end of the War of 1812, during a temporary truce, an American went hunting and by accident crossed behind the British lines, where he shot a crow. He was caught by an unarmed British officer who, by complimenting him on his fine shooting, persuaded him to hand over his gun. The officer then pointed the gun and said that as punishment for trespassing the American must take a bite out of the crow. The American obeyed, but when the officer returned his gun, he took his revenge and made the Briton eat the rest of the bird. The source of humble pie is less far-fetched; it is a corruption of (or pun on) umble-pie, “umbles” being dialect for the heart, liver, and entrails of the deer, which were fed to the hunt’s beaters and other servants while the lord and his guests ate the choice venison. This explanation appeared in 1830 in Vocabulary of East Anglia by Robert Forby. The analogy to eating dirt is self-evident. It appeared in Frederick W. Farrar’s Julian Home (1859): “He made up for the dirt they had been eating by the splendour of his entertainment.”