Why do people say "I could eat you up"?

Why do people use the expression “…is/are so cute, I could eat it/them up!” People say that about my dog and I hear other people say to little babies. Honestly, I’ve been wondering about this for a while. Where did the expression come from?

I don’t know. I’m not sure everybody says this, just the same sort of person who uses the expression “chinny chin chin”.

You know how some of your foods look good, and it makes you want to eat it? Well, it’s an expression used to say that a person is good, or looks good, to eat up. It’s a compliment. I should state that if you’re told this while simmering in a large pot with vegetables and gravy, then begin worry.

I think that is it. A related saying is: “I could just sop you up with a biscuit.”

Perhaps a connection with the hunger for things that are sweet. Some of the more common expressions, such as calling someone “Honey”, “Sweetheart” or even “Sweetie”,[if you’re as old as I am, you may remember on the TV series “The Real McCoys”, the wife is referred to by her husband as “Sugarbabe”]attest to that fact. Many people just can’t refuse “eating up” something so sweet. YMMV

Clinicians refer to this as Tyson envy. As in, “I could bite your ear, I could eat your children.”

One of the girls I go to school with actually pantomimed covering a kitten in ketchup and swallowing it whole.

I was just about to post this thread myself.

For the same reason we refer to our lovers and darlings as sweetie/honey/sugar/etc.

Food = life. If you don’t eat, you can’t live. Also, the eating of food is pleasurable and the eating of delicious foods even more pleasurable.

You also cover the one you love with kisses and/or licks. I know I often want to kiss cute baby animals I see, even if they are covered in fur.

In another, most twisted sense, it is taking the essense of the thing and making it part of you. If you were to actually eat the cute kitten then parts of the kitten would become parts of you. If you actually ate your lover/child, then you would be joined in the most complete way possible.

I just woke up, so I am having a hard time explaining all this, so let me know if it doesn’t make sense. :slight_smile:

Oh, that makes sense…Thanks, everyone. :slight_smile:

Am I the only one having an Addams Family flashback?

Expression of latent cannibalistic tendencies.

I think it is because eating has a deep-rooted symbolic meaning, that is, becoming one with what or who you eat up. I think one can find this phenomenon with ancient tribal communities, but today (in a different context) we also have the saying “You are what you eat”.
In Christianity, the sacrifice of Jesus is also connected to eating and drinking Him.

I have also had this feeling towards my sister :smiley: We sometimes go mad and play like children (both of us are young adults). We do so out of love, sometimes both of us feel like biting one another. It sound weird, but it’s just so natural for us :smiley:

Tis the same as “I could eat you with a spoon” delicious fare indeed! :slight_smile:

Moved to IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

My favorite example of this phenomenon is what Gloria says to Mort in Madagascar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiAMNRkpS08

At about :53 but its worth watching the whole video to get the setup.

I told someone she looked so good I wanted to taste her and she didn’t think it was cute whatsoever. I don’t know how you guys are getting away with it.

I don’t know why people do it, but I know it’s not unusual to play around with toddlers/babies saying you’re going to eat them. And then grabbing them and going NOM NOM NOM on their necks or something XD Although, I’ve heard this tends to teach them to bite other kids.

People say things without thinking about how it sounds all the time. The worst incident I experienced was a waitress who said my daughter was so cute she was going to kidnap her. :eek: Obviously she didn’t kidnap my baby and only meant that my daughter was super cute but she didn’t consider how it would sound to threaten to kidnap someone’s baby instead of just calling her adorable. I think the “eat you up” thing is similar in nature in that it is meant to be a compliment and not an actual threat of cannibalism.

Also memorably used in Where the Wild Things Are:

I was taking a medical terminology class - the teacher was describing her new grandchild and said: “He was so cute it makes me just want to eat his little face off.”

I was both taken aback and struck by how accurate that description was of how much you love your little kiddo. You kinda do feel like eating them up. Weird.