The Past Tense of Eat: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

If you have ever been curious about the correct past tense of eat in the English language, this article will clear that up plus give you a look into the history of the word, the definition, and everything else you could want to learn about the word. 

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What Is the Definition of the Word Eat?

The English verb eat is defined as:

  • to take in through the mouth as food: ingest, chew, and swallow in turn
  • to destroy, consume, or waste by or as if by eating 
    • expenses ate up the profits
    • gadgets that eat up too much space
  • to bear the expense of: take a loss on 
    • the team was forced to eat the rest of his contract
  • to consume gradually: CORRODE
    • cars eaten away by rust
  • to consume with vexation: BOTHER
    • what’s eating you now
  • to enjoy eagerly or avidly: LAP —used with up
    • it was an amazing performance and the crowd ate it up
  • to affect something by gradual destruction or consumption  —usually used with into, away, or at
    • the loss was really eating at her
  • to defeat, conquer, or overwhelm completely: CRUSH
    • was eaten alive by the competition

How Do You Conjugate Eat?

Here are the other verb conjugations of the word eat, including the past tense verb forms:

Base Form (Infinitive):


Simple Present Tense in Third-Person Singular (He/She/It):


Simple Past Tense (Preterite):


Past Participle:


Present Participle/Gerund:


Present Perfect Tense:


Past Perfect Tense:

Had eaten

The History and Origin of the Word

The word eat has been around long before the 12th century. The Old English word etan, meaning to consume food, devour, consume, comes from the German verb etan from PIE root ed, literally meaning to eat. The sense of the word meaning to corrode or wear away comes from the 1500s. This century also brought the slang phrases to eat one’s words and eat one’s heart out. In the 1800s the phrase what’s eating you was used. Then the term eating out started being used in the 1900s with the popularity and convenience of restaurants. 

Synonyms of Eat

  • Consume-  to do away with completely: DESTROY
    • The fire consumed several buildings.
  • Ingest- to take in for or as if for digestion
  • Partake- to have a portion (as of food or drink) 
    • were invited to partake of a dinner
  • Put Away- to eat or drink up: CONSUME
    • our daily bread
  • Chow- EAT —often used with down
    • chowing down on pizza
  • Grub-  FOOD
  • Provisions- a stock of needed materials or supplies
    • especially: a stock of food —usually used in plural
  • Viands- an item of food
  • especially: a choice or tasty dish

Real-Life Example Sentences With the Word Eat


  • You’ll feel better if you eat something. 
  •  I ate a big breakfast so I’m not very hungry.
  • They like to eat at home.


  • This restaurant has some good eats. 
  • Kids under five eat for free. 

Examples of the Word in Context


Next time you need to write the irregular verb eat, you will be well prepared for everything you need to know what it is and how to use it efficiently within English grammar. If you’re learning English, you should feel confident with the different conjugations, the history of the word, and the definition.