1. To be subject to insults and harsh treatment. Sometimes used as a hostile imperative. Because of all the bragging I'd done beforehand, my friends made me eat dirt for finishing last in the race. Eat dirt, Jimmy!
2. To retract, regret, or feel foolish about what one has previously said. You think I can't get an A in this class, but I'll make you eat dirt when we get our report cards! After my negative prediction for the season, I certainly ate dirt when the team started out undefeated.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
eat dirtsuffer insults or humiliation. informal
In the USA eat dirt also has the sense of ‘make a humiliating retraction’ or ‘eat your words’.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer