8 Tantalizing Terms for Eating
There are many different ways to partake in a meal: if your appetite is slight, then you might peck and nibble, but if you’re famished, you’re more likely to gobble. This word, which means both “to eat hastily” and “to make the throaty cry of a male turkey,” is thought to be a formation from the word gob, which is slang for mouth. Both definitions could be fun to try out at the dinner table.
Another term for the ravenous, the word devour conjures a beastly manner of eating. The word is often invoked to express a degree of barbarous consumption, as in this passage from Robinson Crusoe about men so hungry they’d lost command of themselves: “The poor Creatures rather devour’d than eat it.”
More than a festive fashion accessory, scarf can also mean “to eat, especially voraciously“. It’s often paired with a helping word, such as up or down, and implies a rapid or frenzied feeding. Those who scarf up their meals are often the first ones at the table to finish, and, as a result, the first ones to nap.
One of the more versatile words on this list when it comes to discussing cuisine, grub can be used to refer to food itself, to the supplying of food, and to the eating of food. Needless to say, it’s a handy word to have in your back pocket at a family meal. But beware: in its noun form, this wily word can also mean “a dull, plodding person“, or the “sluggish larva, as of a scarab beetle“. Use this term wisely at the dinner table.
Associated more with meals of substance than snacks, the phrase chow down incorporates the word chow, which was perhaps brought to us from the Chinese pidgin English word chow-chow meaning “food.”
This word, which comes to us from the Old French verb gorger, means both “to eat greedily” and “to stuff with food.” In its noun form, gorge can refer to a gluttonous meal or the throat. So remember: the next time you gorge on a gorge, be sure to wash it down with water; we wouldn’t want anything to get stuck in your gorge.
Unlike devour and gorge, this word for eating implies a lighter and more casual consumption. Nosh means “to snack or eat between meals” or “to snack on.” It came to English from the Yiddish nashn meaning “to nibble”.
Those who gormandize at the dining table eat in a particularly greedy or ravenous manner. The word comes to us from the Middle French gourmand, meaning “glutton.” In English, the noun gourmand has the slightly less pejorative sense of “a person who is fond of good eating, often indiscriminately and to excess.”