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From Middle English eter, etere, etter, from Old English etere; equivalent to eat +‎ -er (agent noun suffix) or +‎ -er (patient suffix) (food suitable for eating).



eater (plural eaters)

  1. A person who eats.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, translated by H.L. Brækstad, Folk and Fairy Tales, page 96:
      "He is the right sort of man for a labourer, but he is a terrible eater, to be sure," thought the farmer.
    • 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
      "Eaters of human flesh, two things have ye done. First, ye have attacked these strangers, being white men, and would have slain their servant, and for that alone death is your reward."
    • 1947 January and February, O. S. Nock, “"The Aberdonian" in Wartime”, in Railway Magazine, pages 3, 5:
      Coal-eaters they may have been, but a more willing or harder working Atlantic engine was never designed.
    • 1987, Baird Jones, Sexual humor - Page 309
      I'm a slow but fastidious eater
    • 1997, James White, The Best Sex of Your Life - Page 166
      Ice cream tastes good to the eater, and has the added advantage of providing a little chill of excitement []
    • 2001, Cool Sexy Guy, Story: Cheerleading Camp Group:
      The girls were having lots of fun rolling around on the bed, though Kacie was a much better fingerer and occasional eater.
  2. A fruit or other food that is suitable for eating, especially one that is intended to be eaten uncooked.
    Hyponym: eating apple
    • 1911, Robert Ernest Vernède, The Fair Dominion: A Record of Canadian Impressions, page 98:
      The bass is a fine eater.
    • 2004, Laura Mason, Food Culture in Great Britain, page 94:
      For the British market, apples are classed as early, mid-season, or late, and subdivided into eaters or cookers.
  3. (cellular automata) A configuration of cells that appears to consume another configuration by gradually causing it to disappear.
    • 1989 October 31, Scott Huddleston, “life: glider guns”, in comp.theory.cell-automata[1] (Usenet):
      But there are many queen bee configurations in which the debris is neutralized, including placement of a block or eater near the bee's turnaround point, or placing two queen bees in a line or at right angles in various positions and phases.
    • 1997 November 30, David Bell, “Day & Night - An Interesting Variant of Life (part 2/5)”, in comp.theory.cell-automata[2] (Usenet):
      The eater can also destroy a snail, but changes its phase while doing so.
    • 2009 January 13, Dave Greene, “Ash”, in comp.theory.cell-automata[3] (Usenet):
      Probably even if it didn't fail catastrophically, any design like this would get stuck in an infinite loop pretty quick, upon hitting its first "cleaner-proof" ash -- an eater pattern that happens to absorb the test reaction without itself being altered.

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