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Eat Crow

Are you interested in learning more English idioms? Today’s idiom is to eat crow. It’s an American expression that means to be forced to admit to having made an error. A crow is a black bird known as a Krähe in German, corbeau in French and cuervo in Spanish. What is clear in all languages, is the fact that this bird probably isn’t the most delicious of birds to eat. In his book entitled Port Out Starboard Home (Penguin Books Ltd., 2000) that looks at the origins of English idioms and the words we use, Michael Quinion mentions an old joke in reference to the English idiom to eat crow. He writes:

The origin seems obvious - the meat of the crow, it being a carnivore, is rank and extremely distasteful. An old joke among American outdoorsmen - I am told - is that if you get lost in the woods without any food and manage to catch a crow, you should put it in a pot with one of your boots, boil it for a week, and, then, eat the boot.

That is supposedly how delicious eating crow is! Eating crow is unappetizing - much like admitting to having been wrong!

Here are some sample sentences using the expression to eat crow:

1. At first, Fred said that the crisis was nothing to worry about. Later, he had to eat crow.
2. Mary said that she knew all of the English idioms in the world. After her test, she had to eat crow.

Politicians often make promises and predictions during their political careers. Can you think of any situations in which politicians in your country had to
eat crow? What idioms do you have in your language that have a similar meaning? What English idioms do you know that have similar meanings?

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