Eating Crow


What does Eating Crow mean?

Eating crow is not referring to the newest of the hip diets, so if you find a bag in the fridge, saying Dead Crow, or Dead Dove: Do Not Eat.

Instead, the phrase itself refers to the humiliating act of having to swallow one’s pride and admit that they were wrong.


What's the origin of Eating Crow?

Although the exact origin of the expression “Eating crow” is not known, its roots may be traced back to the Middle Ages, through the European sentiment toward all carrion-eating animals, condemning them as unclear and unfit for eating.

This resulted in a veritable plethora of war anecdotes of soldiers forcing their captive foes to eat crows.

An early anecdote dates back to the war of 1812, fought between the United States and the United Kingdom, where an American soldier is captured and forced to eat crow, but due to his slyness, it is the Brit who has to finish “Eating crow”.

The first documented case of the phrase can be found in an 1851 issue of the San Francisco magazine Daily Evening Picayune, published on December 3rd.

Spread & Usage

How did Eating Crow spread?

Over the 20th century, the expression started shifting from anecdotes to become a colloquialism for the humiliating effect of admitting one’s faults and mistakes.

“Eating crow” grew significantly in the last century, and its growth has not slowed down until the 2010’s, when it finally began to decline.

It was first defined on Urban Dictionary on December 2nd, 2003, with several other entries to follow.

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