Eat Like A Bird

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Meaning of Idiom 'To Eat Like a Bird'

To eat like a bird means to eat very little or to eat very small portions only big enough for a bird; to have a very small appetite. 1,2

Compare to Eat Like a Horse.

Examples of Use

"No wonder Jane is so thin. She eats like a bird."

"Please have some more roast beef," said mom. "You eat like a bird. It's not healthy!"


Used since the first half of the 1900's, this idiom alludes to the idea that birds eat very little.

This notion is, in fact, mistaken. Birds eat a large amount relative to their body weight. The idiom used as an antonym, eat like a horse, alludes to how horses seem to eat anything available and are eating all the time. However, relative to body weight, they do not eat as much as birds! 1

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Brenner, Gail Abel. Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook. Wiley, 2003.

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