eat crow

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First appeared in the 1870s in America in the form eat boiled crow. Unknown origin, but probably a reference to the meat of the crow being very unappetizing.


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eat crow (third-person singular simple present eats crow, present participle eating crow, simple past ate crow, past participle eaten crow)

  1. (chiefly US, idiomatic) To recognize that one has been shown to be mistaken or outdone, especially by admitting that one has made a humiliating error.
    • 1901, Frank Norris, chapter 2, in The Octopus[1]:
      He must apologise, he saw that clearly enough, must eat crow, as he told himself.
    • 1937 July 19, “Baseball Races”, in Time[2], archived from the original on 2008-12-06:
      The Nationals started with Jerome Herman ("Dizzy") Dean, who reveled in striking out Lou Gehrig in the first inning. Gehrig made Dean eat crow in the third inning by smashing a home run.
    • 1950, J.C.N.P., “Libel Actions by Political Organizations”, in University of Pennsylvania Law Review, volume 98, number 6, page 883:
      In political libel, furthermore, a public recanting by the vilifier is more likely to be believed by the public, for it is well known that no politician likes to "eat crow" unless he has to.
    • 2021, John H. McWhorter, chapter 1, in Woke Racism, New York: Forum, →ISBN:
      [Alison] Roman, now typical for such cases, ate crow with an apologetic statement about how she had reflected and realized her error.


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