I was reading an article on ohtabooks.com which had the following sentence:


To me, this looks like:

To learn English words, I ate a dictionary page-by-page.

Usually, 食べる means 'eat'. But that seems silly here!

Is this a figurative use of 食べる? I think it is, but I'm not sure what it means specifically. In English, people sometimes talk figuratively about 'devouring' a book, meaning they read through the book very quickly, often in one sitting. But I'm not sure that's quite the same meaning intended by 食べる here.

Or could it be that it's supposed to be amusing? (I got the impression it was supposed to be serious.)

Can someone explain how 食べる is used here?


From an Amazon book review:

英語の単語を覚えるための奇行の一つとして語り継がれる伝説の一つに、 「覚えるためにとにかく辞書のページを片っ端から食べた」 というのがあります。(少なくとも、そんな冗談を私は聞いた)

From an OKWave answer to the question 「英単語は辞書を破って食べると覚えられるのでしょうか」:

戦前の旧制高校(今の大学、一部では旧制中学でも)の学生の間で言われた事で、 法螺混じりの当時の学生のバンカラ気質を表した戯言です。 本は当時は高い物で、特に辞書は高価でした。 それでも俺はこんなに凄いんだぞ、そして英語をマスターしたんだぞと言う法螺話です。

So 食べる seems to literally mean eat, as in this silly urban legend.

  • 小さいころに実際に誰かに聞かされたことがあります。都市伝説の類でしょうけど。 – naruto Sep 14 '15 at 1:49
  • 紙もインクも食べたって消化できないんですよね。だから…(笑) – broken laptop Sep 14 '15 at 3:12

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