Middle English Dictionary Entry

ēten v.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. ieten v.
To take as nourishment, to eat (food, liquids); eten in, to swallow; eten up, to consume; -- (a) with or (b) without obj., (c) with gen. or of phrase.
(a) To be at table, to partake of a meal; to dine or feast; (b) eten and drinken, to dine or feast.
(a) To partake of or receive (the Host); (b) eten gostli, to partake of as spiritual food.
Fig. (a) To feed inwardly upon, derive spiritual strength or inspiration from (something); (b) to take unto oneself (the sins of others, one's own damnation).
Of beasts and birds of prey, or the Devil: to swallow, devour; also fig.
To swallow (an object).
To despoil, ravage, or ruin (someone).
(a) Of vermin, insects, etc.: to eat away, eat up; gnaw, bite; (b) eten of, gnaw or bite off.
Of a disease or a medicine: to corrode, destroy (tissue).
Of hate and fear: to gnaw at (one's heart).
(a) eten almesse, ~ oðer mannes swink, to live on charity, on the labor of others; (b) eten at borde, ~ bred, to dine or eat; fig. to live; (c) eten..fille, to eat (one's) fill; (d) eten out of hous and harbar, ~ out at the dore, to eat (someone) out of house and home; (e) eten wel, to have a good appetite.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • ?a1150 Aelfric Gloss.(Trin-C B.15.34)439/439 : Etan ne sealdon [alt. from: ne gereordodon].
  • Note: New form: Also..(early) etan.
    Note: Antedates word.
    Note: Quot. belongs to sense 1.(b). (See similar quot. (a1402) in sense 1.(a) with an implied direct object which appears to belong in sense 1.(b).)
  • c1200 Wor.Serm.in EGSt.7 (Wor Q.29)54 : Þe deofel seide..þet ilke dei þet Ʒe heteth of þe tre of liue..ʒe scullen beon also god.
  • Note: New form: Also..heten.
    Note: Quot. belongs to sense 1.(c).
    Note: Gloss: to partake of (food), eat.
  • a1275 *Body & S.(4) (Trin-C B.14.39)36 : Wirmes..Min owene fles þa sulen oten [read: eten].
  • Note: New form: Also..(early)(error)oten.
    Note: Quot. belongs to sense 6.(a).
  • c1330 Orfeo (Auch)396 : Sum armed on hors sete, & sume astrangled as þai ete, & sum were in water adreynt.
  • Note: Additional quot.
    Note: Quot. belongs to sense 1.(b).
  • (a1470) Malory Wks.(Win-C)916/31 : Than she asked hym if he had ete ony mete late. 'Nay, madam, truly I yeete no mete nyghe thes three dayes.'
  • Note: New form: Also..yete.
    Note: Quot. belongs to sense 1.(a).
  • a1500(?c1425) Spec.Sacer.(Add 36791)7/9 : We forbede that ye yeten no maner of flesche or fleschely metes in that worshipful nyʒt.
  • Note: New form: Also..yeten.
    Note: Quot. belongs to sense 1.(a).
Note: The list of variant spellings in the form section may be incomplete and / or may need revision to accord with standards of later volumes of the MED.--notes per MLL