chew the scenery

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Alternative forms[edit]


Its earliest reference is listed in the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang as being used by Mary Hallock Foote in Coeur D'Alene in 1894.[1]


  • (file)


chew the scenery (third-person singular simple present chews the scenery, present participle chewing the scenery, simple past and past participle chewed the scenery)

  1. (idiomatic, performing arts) To display excessive emotion or to act in an exaggerated manner while performing; to be melodramatic; to be flamboyant.
    • 1989 November 27, David Denby, “A Farewell to Arms [review of Steel Magnolias]”, in New York Magazine[2]:
      The way the six stars chew the scenery is nothing compared to their abuse of one another.
    • 2006 October 11, James Poniewozik, “Fall TV Preview”, in Time:
      Starring as a Great White Hope police commissioner sent to clean up Washington, D.C., Nelson displays a set of pipes barely hinted at in his years on "Coach," spending the long pilot hour barking, bloviating, singing(!) and generally chewing the scenery.


Derived terms[edit]



  • Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang