A captive Hawaiian crow utilizing a stick tool to extract food indigenous a wooden log is shown in this photo released on Sept. 14, 2016. (Courtesy Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Global)


Now, the VOA discovering English program Words and Their Stories. On this show, we explore the origins and also usage of expression we use in every day American English

Okay, nobody likes to it is in wrong. But when it transforms out that us are, in fact, wrong, the finest thing to carry out is admit it.

You are watching: What does the phrase eat crow mean

For part reason, in American English once we must admit the we space wrong, we usually eat something. For example, admitting a mistake frequently requires that us swallow our pride. The expression method that we need to forget ourselves in order to repair the damage our mistake has actually done.

That"s right. Or, let’s say you are bragging about miscellaneous you can do. But it transforms out friend can"t. If you claim that something is true when it isn"t, friend may have to eat your very own words.

Now, usually eating is a an excellent thing and eating pie is even better. Blackberry, apple and pumpkin pie are all fairly delicious. However, one pie the tastes dreadful is humble pie. As soon as you eat humble pie you need to admit you space wrong. You, in a way, need to eat humility, which follow to this expression does not taste an extremely good.

Sometimes as soon as we sell a challenge, we make a bet. We may use the phrase, "If I"m wrong, I"ll eat mine hat." This is a way of saying, "There"s no method I"m wrong." In numerous old American films and television shows, this expression is offered as a joke. And the hoax is constantly the same: someone, proven wrong, shakes salt on his hat as he pretends come eat it.

Okay, for this reason swallowing pride, eating words and humble pie, or also eating one’s hat are all relatively easy to understand -- type of.

But what around eating crow? Why is eat crow a means of admitting you"re wrong?

Some language experts say this expression originates from English writer Rudyard Kipling. Kipling uses photo of eat crow in his 1885 short story "The Strange journey of Morrowbie Jukes."

Morrowbie Jukes to be a european colonist in India. While travel one day, he falls into a sand pit and cannot escape. An additional man, a indigenous Indian, is also trapped in the same sand pit. The Indian man stays alive by capturing wild crows and also eating them. Morrowbie is complete of pride together he yells, "I shall never eat crow!"

However, days pass and he has consumed nothing. Hungry and also facing specific death, he finally does what the swore loudly the wouldn"t carry out -- eat crow.

Often world have to eat crow when they make an extremely bold, repetitive public declaration that turn out to it is in false. Not just people – the media sometimes needs to do it, too.

That"s right. In 1948, then-president take care of Truman was campaigning versus Thomas Dewey. The Washington short article newspaper guess over and also over that Dewey would win. The newspaper to be wrong.

After the election, they sent out this telegram to the winner, president Truman:

"You space Hereby invite To A ‘Crow Banquet’ come Which This Newspaper Proposes to Invite Newspaper Editorial Writers, political Reporters and also Editors, consisting of Our Own, in addition to Pollsters, Radio Commentators and Columnists ... Main Course will Consist Of chest Of difficult Old crow En Glace. (You will Eat Turkey.)"


Now, let"s hear several of these expressions in a brief story.

Four girlfriend live in a tiny town. Your favorite point to carry out together is to play basketball together. Among them, Lane, is new to town. He"s really good at basketball and lets everyone know. His friends warn him the if that keeps bragging, he will certainly soon have actually to eat his words. But he doesn"t listen.

"If everyone in this small town to win me top top the court, I"ll eat mine hat!"

Lane was constantly betting choose that. He really assumed no one could beat him at basketball.

One night after shooting hoops every day, the four friends uncover themselves in a mom-and-pop restaurant for dinner. Together Lane brags around how great he had played the day, the owner the the restaurant come over through their food. He"s really tall, but walks slowly and his ago is stooped. His solid hands space spotted v age.

Hearing their conversation, the old man smiles. "I supplied to shoot a lot once I to be younger,” the remembers fondly. “It"s rather a game!"

The friends agree with him. They have a good conversation through the old man about how basketball has changed over the years.

Lane, however, is upset. Nobody is talking about his success on the court that day.

But then he allows his pride obtain the much better of him.

"Well, old man, it"s nice that you played once. But basketball is a game for young world like me!"

"That"s the truth," the old male laughs. "My tired old legs can never walk up and down the court the method they used to."

"Yeah, restaurant occupational is much more suited come an enlarge person."

Lane claims "older person" as if it to be a bad word. Lane"s girlfriend sink down in their seats, embarrassed at his behavior. The old man simply smiles. The stands increase straighter and clears his throat loudly to gain everyone"s attention.

"Well, there is one point that I have the right to still execute quite well. I have the right to shoot a mean free-throw!"

He points at Lane and adds, "In fact, I could even to win you, young man."

Lane laughs in ~ this. His friends, who recognize the old man better than Lane, to speak nothing. They merely sit there, smiling, as Lane invites the old male to a friendly free-throw competition the following day.

"If you beat me at cost-free throws, I"ll ..." lane pauses, not understanding what come bet.

The owner thinks of it because that him.

"If girlfriend lose, you have to wait tables in mine restaurant because that a week."

Lane agrees come the bet and they shower on it. Lock arrange to meet at the basketball court the following day in ~ noon. Word around the difficulty gets around quickly. The city is that small. At the appointed time, spectators fill the seats roughly the basketball court.

The rule of the competition are simple. The one to make the many free-throw shots in a row wins. Roadway goes first. He renders 24 great free-throw shots. However he misses his 25th throw.

"Beat that!" that yells, throw the basketball in ~ the old man.

The old man picks up the ball and also walks progressively over to the cost-free throw line. The restaurant owner sinks shot ~ shot, every one of them perfect.

The old man is still shoot to the roar of the crowd when Lane pipeline the court with his tail between his legs. In the end, the old guy made a full of 63 perfect free-throws – a brand-new court record!

At first Lane is also embarrassed to go into the restaurant. However finally, that swallows his pride and apologizes to the old man. The old male graciously provides Lane one apron, climate watches as the young male waits top top his first customer.

As many of the human being eating at the restaurant knew around the bet, Lane has to eat crow every time he takes an order. And then the eats substantial crow when his friends come into the restaurant. They offer him a really tough time!

Soon, though, roadway is having fun talking around basketball v the old man. Once Lane speak his friends exactly how much the old male knows around basketball, they aren"t surprised at all.

"Yeah, we tried to tell friend that. However you wouldn"t listen. That old male was a university basketball star and also even played because that a skilled team."

"Well, friend could"ve called me that before I tested him!" roadway throws a towel at his friends.

"You essential to eat part humble pie. Her bragging was really getting on our nerves! speaking of pie, waiter," one friend says, "I"ll take it the peach pie because that dessert."

After the 3rd day, Lane and the old man decide to fulfill every evening after occupational to shoot hoops together.

"On one condition," claims the old man.

"You name it," answers Lane.

"Please stop waiting tables in mine restaurant. You"re yes, really bad and also I"m shedding customers."

And that"s the end of this Words and also Their Stories. Just how do you recognize you"re dorn in your language?

Do friend eat crow? Or just your hat? let us understand or simply practice this expressions in the comment Section!

I"m Bryan Lynn and I"m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo composed this story for VOA learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

admit v. to say normally in one unwilling way that you accept or do not refuse the truth or presence of (something)

brag v. to talk around yourself, her achievements, her family, etc., in a way that reflects too much pride

colonist n. a person who help to create a colony

shoot hoops - slang : play basketball

mom-and-popadj. owned and also run by a married pair or through a small variety of people

stooped adj. (of a person) having actually the head and also shoulders habitually bend forward.

fondly adv. in a loving way

mean adj. chiefly US, unshened : wonderful or impressive

spectator n. a human who watches an event, show, game, activity, etc., often as component of an audience

roar n. a loud constant confused sound

graciously adv. to perform something v kindness and courtesy

massive adj. large in amount or degree

to obtain on someone"s nerves - slang : to annoy someone a lot

with his tail in between his legs informal expression : v a emotion of being embarrassed or embarrassing especially due to the fact that one has actually been defeated