A captive Hawaiian crow using a stick tool to extract food native a wood log is shown in this image released top top Sept. 14, 2016. (Courtesy Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Global)


Now, the VOA discovering English regime Words and Their Stories. ~ above this show, we check out the origins and also usage of expressions we usage in every job American English

Okay, nobody likes to be wrong. However when it transforms out that we are, in fact, wrong, the finest thing to do is admit it.

You are watching: What does the phrase eating crow mean

For part reason, in American English when we must admit the we space wrong, we generally eat something. For example, admitting a mistake frequently requires that us swallow our pride. The expression way that we need to forget ourself in bespeak to fix the damages our mistake has actually done.

That"s right. Or, stop say you are bragging about other you can do. Yet it turns out girlfriend can"t. If you insurance claim that miscellaneous is true as soon as it isn"t, you may need to eat your own words.

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

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

Okay, therefore swallowing pride, eat words and humble pie, or even eating one’s hat room all relatively easy to know -- type of.

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

Some language specialists say this expression comes from English writer Rudyard Kipling. Kipling uses photo of eating crow in his 1885 short story "The Strange ride 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 aboriginal Indian, is additionally trapped in the very same sand pit. The Indian guy stays lively by capturing wild crows and also eating them. Morrowbie is full of pride as he yells, "I shall never ever eat crow!"

However, work pass and he has consumed nothing. Hungry and facing particular death, he ultimately does what that swore loudly the wouldn"t perform -- eat crow.

Often people have come eat crow when they make very bold, repetitive public explanation 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 bother Truman was campaigning against Thomas Dewey. The Washington article newspaper guess over and also over the Dewey would certainly win. The newspaper was wrong.

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

"You room Hereby invited To A ‘Crow Banquet’ to Which This Newspaper Proposes to Invite Newspaper Editorial Writers, political Reporters and Editors, including Our Own, together with Pollsters, Radio Commentators and Columnists ... Main Course will Consist Of breast Of hard Old crow En Glace. (You will certainly Eat Turkey.)"


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

Four girlfriend live in a little town. Your favorite thing to carry out together is come play basketball together. Among them, Lane, is brand-new to town. He"s really good at basketball and lets anyone know. His friends warn him that if he keeps bragging, he will certainly soon have to eat his words. However he doesn"t listen.

"If everyone in this little town beats me on the court, I"ll eat my hat!"

Lane was always betting prefer that. The really thought no one might beat him at basketball.

One night after shoot hoops all day, the four friends discover themselves in a mom-and-pop restaurant for dinner. As Lane brags about how great he had actually played that day, the owner of the restaurant comes over v their food. He"s really tall, however walks slowly and also his earlier is stooped. His strong hands room spotted v age.

Hearing your conversation, the old guy smiles. "I provided to shooting a lot as soon as I was younger,” that remembers fondly. “It"s fairly a game!"

The friend agree v him. They have a an excellent conversation through the old man about how basketball has adjusted over the years.

Lane, however, is upset. No one is talking around his victory on the court that day.

But then he lets his pride get the better of him.

"Well, old man, it"s nice the you play once. Yet basketball is a video game for young human being like me!"

"That"s the truth," the old guy laughs. "My exhausted old legs could never walk up and also down the court the method they supplied to."

"Yeah, restaurant job-related is much more suited come an enlarge person."

Lane states "older person" as if it to be a bad word. Lane"s friend sink under in your seats, embarrassed at his behavior. The old man simply smiles. He stands up straighter and clears his throat loudly to get everyone"s attention.

"Well, there is one thing that I deserve to still execute quite well. I can shoot a mean free-throw!"

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

Lane laughs in ~ this. His friends, who know the old man far better than Lane, to speak nothing. They simply sit there, smiling, as Lane invites the old male to a familiar free-throw compete the next day.

"If girlfriend beat me at complimentary throws, I"ll ..." roadway pauses, not knowing what to bet.

The owner thinks of it because that him.

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

Lane agrees to the bet and also they shower on it. They arrange to accomplish at the basketball court the following day in ~ noon. Word about the an obstacle gets around quickly. The city is that small. In ~ the appointed time, spectators fill the seats roughly the basketball court.

The rules of the competition room simple. The one to do the many free-throw shots in a row wins. Lane goes first. He renders 24 great free-throw shots. However he misses his 25th throw.

"Beat that!" that yells, cram the basketball at the old man.

The old male picks up the ball and also walks progressively over come the cost-free throw line. The restaurant owner sink shot after shot, every one of them perfect.

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

At very first Lane is too embarrassed to enter the restaurant. However finally, he swallows his pride and apologizes to the old man. The old male graciously offers Lane an apron, climate watches as the young male waits ~ above his very first customer.

As many of the people eating in ~ the restaurant knew about the bet, Lane needs to eat crow every time the takes one order. And also then the eats substantial crow as soon as his friends come right into the restaurant. They give him a really tough time!

Soon, though, lane is having actually fun talking around basketball through the old man. Once Lane speak his friends just how much the old man knows about basketball, they aren"t surprised in ~ all.

"Yeah, we tried to tell girlfriend that. But you wouldn"t listen. The old guy was a college basketball star and also even played for a expert team."

"Well, friend could"ve said me that prior to I tested him!" lane throws a towel in ~ his friends.

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

After the third day, Lane and also the old man decide to satisfy every night after work-related to shoot hoops together.

"On one condition," says the old man.

"You name it," answers Lane.

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

And that"s the finish of this Words and Their Stories. How do you recognize you"re dorn in her language?

Do girlfriend eat crow? Or simply your hat? allow us understand or simply practice these expressions in the comments Section!

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

Anna Matteo composed this story because that VOA finding out English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

admit v. to say usually in one unwilling means that you accept or do not refuse the fact or visibility of (something)

brag v. to talk about yourself, her achievements, your family, etc., in a means that reflects too much pride

colonist n. a human being who help to develop a colony

shoot hoops - slang : play basketball

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

stooped adj. (of a person) having the head and shoulders habitually bending forward.

fondly adv. in a loving way

mean adj. chiefly US, informal : great or impressive

spectator n. a human who city hall an event, show, game, activity, etc., often as part of one audience

roar n. a loud continuous confused sound

graciously adv. to carry out something v kindness and courtesy

massive adj. large in amount or degree

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

with his tail between his foot informal phrase : through a emotion of being embarrassed or awkward especially due to the fact that one has actually been defeated