What does the idiom "eat one's heart out" mean?

Are you using the idiom eat one's heart out but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the eat one's heart out idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "eat one's heart out"


The idiom 'eat one's heart out' is used to express a feeling of intense envy or jealousy. The phrase suggests that the feeling is so strong that it is as if the person in question is literally eating away at their own heart.


The origin of the phrase 'eat one's heart out' is not known for certain. It is speculated that the phrase originated in the late 1600s. The origin may have come from the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which Orpheus descends into the underworld and attempts to bring his beloved Eurydice back. He is nearly successful, but he fails because he looks back to make sure she is following him and thus loses the chance to save her. It is possible that this myth gave rise to the phrase because of Orpheus's profound grief and heartache.


The idiom 'eat one's heart out' is mainly used in informal contexts. It is typically said to someone who is feeling jealous of another's success or happiness. It is usually said in a sympathetic or consoling way, to indicate that the person should not be so hard on themselves and that their feelings of envy or jealousy are understandable. It can also be used to express a sense of humorous resignation when someone is unable to obtain something they have been wanting.

Example Sentences

  • Don't eat your heart out just because your friends got better grades than you. You still did well!
  • I know you wanted the job, but don't eat your heart out. It just wasn't meant to be.
  • Ah, don't eat your heart out. He's not worth it.

The meanings of the words in the "eat one's heart out" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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