eat (one) alive

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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 and/or easily defeat one due to being more aggressive, powerful, 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

eat someone alive

Overwhelm or defeat someone thoroughly, make short work of someone. For example, Lacking experience in manufacturing, he was eaten alive by his competitors. This slangy hyperbole dates from the early 1900s. A newer slangy variant is eat someone's lunch, dating from the mid-1900s. For example, It was a decisive victory; he ate the incumbent's lunch.
See also: alive, eat, someone

eat someone alive

1. If you say that someone or something will eat you alive, you mean that they will seriously harm or criticize you. If a president does not introduce new measures, he's going to be eaten alive by Wall Street. He was certain Sid would be eaten alive by the hardened criminals at the jail.
2. If something such as an illness or a problem is eating you alive, it is causing you great pain or distress. The pain ate him alive; the world was nothing but fire and pain. I know and she knows that the nursing home is the only solution. But it is eating me alive.
3. If you are eaten alive by insects, you are repeatedly bitten by them. We've been sleeping on the floor; we have no water. It's been easily 100, 125 degrees. We've been eaten alive by bugs. `Can we go out?' — `Outside? The mosquitoes will eat us alive.'
See also: alive, eat, someone

eat someone alive

1 (of insects) bite someone many times. 2 exploit someone's weakness ruthlessly. informal
See also: alive, eat, someone

eat (someone) alive

Slang
To overwhelm or defeat thoroughly: an inexperienced manager who was eaten alive in a competitive corporate environment.
See also: alive, eat