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

The expression eat one's heart out is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the eat one's heart out idiom.

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

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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