To Eat


To Consume

Word Type

godan verb, transitive verb


You know the kanji means eat, and you also already know 食べる. So what's the deal with this also meaning to eat?

食う carries a more masculine and coarse tone than 食べる, so it can come off as rough or impolite in certain situations. It also has a wider set of usages, for example in saying that something is eating up time or resources, or saying that you were bitten by a bug. You'll come across more of these, but they're all pretty straightforward, so don't worry!


  • Kyoko
    (Tokyo accent, female)
  • Kenichi
    (Tokyo accent, male)


Since this word consists of a kanji with hiragana attached, you can bet that it will use the kun'yomi reading. You do know that reading, but this uses a different one, so here's a mnemonic to help you:

There's nothing you love to eat more than cookies (). You could eat them day and night, but watch out, as that might get a little… time-consuming.


Common Word Combinations

  • 虫に食われる

    to be bitten by a bug, to be eaten by a bug

Context Sentences


I didn't have time to eat lunch.


Oh no, my silk suit is being eaten by bugs!


It was a job that just ate up my time and didn't pay off.

Kanji Composition