What does ‘eat your heart out’ mean?

Feifei: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. I’m Feifei… Rob: …and I’m Rob. Hello! In this programme, as you know, we like to add a little humour while teaching our phrases. Feifei: Yes, usually it involves a misunderstanding. For example, we often pretend that one of the presenters doesn’t understand the phrase. Rob: Yes, they take it too literally: they only understand its word-for-word meaning. Feifei: But with this phrase, that would just be too horrible. Rob: And disgusting. Feifei: And not to mention – physically impossible. Rob: So let’s not go there. Today’s phrase is: eat your heart out. Feifei: Scary, huh? Thankfully, it has nothing to do with eating an important part of your body. Rob: It’s an unusual expression. When people say it, they often follow it with the name of a famous or successful person that they want to be compared to. Feifei: But why? It’s easiest to explain with an example. Imagine you are painting a picture. When you finish, you say: Feifei: Eat your heart out, Picasso! Rob: And what you are saying is that your painting is better than Picasso’s. Feifei: But, because Picasso was a true master and your own work is probably not at the same level, most likely you would be saying this as a joke! Rob: And that’s how people often use it: as a joke. After doing something impressive, they say ‘eat your heart out’ followed by someone who is famous for doing that thing. Feifei: For example, after cooking a fantastic meal, they might say ‘eat your heart out’, and the name of a celebrity chef. Even if they don’t think their cooking is better than the chef’s. Rob: It’s almost like a fun way of expressing pride in your work, without sounding too arrogant. I think it’s best if we hear a few more examples. A: What a goal! How did you score that?! B: Not bad huh? Eat your heart out, Ronaldo! I’ve been practising all month and think I’m getting pretty good. Want to hear me sing? OK, here goes… Eat your heart out, Beyonce! A: Would you mind helping me lift this table? B: No problem, I’ll do it. Eat your heart out, Hulk! A: Hey, it’s just a table, you’re not an Avenger! Rob: This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. So there we are – humorously comparing someone’s football skills to Ronaldo’s, their singing ability to Beyonce’s and their strength to Hulk from the movies. And we’ve resisted all temptation to create a situation where we ask Feifei to actually eat a heart. Feifei: Thank goodness. I really don’t feel hungry in any case. Rob: Neither do I. Bye!

35 thoughts on “What does ‘eat your heart out’ mean?”

  1. Would you like to learn more about the way British people express themselves? This video shows you how to identify sarcasm. This is where people say the opposite to what they mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVxFJUqyEkk ?

  2. Kind of a strange expression, the one who said "eat YOUR heart out" is the one being proud?

    Is 'YOUR' here addressing the famous figure comparison? (And not the one you're talking to?)

  3. Hi
    Thanks a million
    It's a scary expression,and yet it's a funny also. So when someone has extra money could say: eat your heart out Bill Gates.

  4. in my native language the phrase of eating heart is used for taking tension
    i.e. Dear son make a phone call when you reach there otherwise i shall be eating heart untill you show up again
    it was word to word translation

  5. I still remember When I was in the university studying for the ANSYS subject, and we had a complex operation needed to be solved in a short time.
    My friend found a way to get it done in a very little time.
    When he did it, he deeply sighed and said ' eat your heart out Gauss'.
    'Gauss' is a famous mathematician.

  6. What a great program on the radio I did today, eat your heart out, Rob from BBC learning English.
    I wonder if I'm correct ?

  7. Due to all the videos from BBC learning English I am become better in English. Eat your heart out, native speakers:))

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *