In several books and TV shows, there have been characters who say "et" instead of "ate" (As in, "I et dinner yesterday at 6:00"). I looked it up on Wiktionary, which defines it but doesn't say where it's used:


(colloquial or dialectal) simple past tense and past participle of eat

I live in the Midwest and I've never heard anyone say this in real life. Is there a specific dialect of American English that this is common to?

  • 1
    ET verb, Chiefly North Atlantic, South Midland, and Southern U.S. Nonstandard. a simple past tense of eat. dictionary.reference.com/browse/et
    – user66974
    May 13, 2015 at 20:28
  • "Et" is a common pronunciation here in Texas as well, and we spell it "et" when so pronounced. As in, "Have you et yet?" I would estimate that it is just as common as eaten in Texas English. —Stephen 09:57, 10 August 2006 (UTC)en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/Talk:et
    – user66974
    May 13, 2015 at 20:34
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    I always thought et was primarily a regional dialectal variant in the UK (not particularly indicative of "informal" speech or low social/educational status), but that in the US it was generally avoided as "ignorant". Personally I use both versions pretty much interchangeably, same as with ee-ther/eye-ther. May 13, 2015 at 20:34
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    When I was reading Boswell's "London Diaries" I noticed that the author spelt it eat (same as present tense) and it wasn't clear to me whether that would be pronounced et or ate. E.g., "Last night I eat a good roast."
    – Robusto
    May 13, 2015 at 20:44
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    Shakespeare routinely uses eat as past participle, which I have always understood to have been pronounced as et in that usage. E.g., Jaques to Orlando (As You Like It 2.6) “Why, I have eat none yet”; Hamlet to Claudius (Hamlet 4.3) “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king”; and Hal to the crown (2 Henry IV 4.5) “But thou, most fine, most honour'd, most renown'd, / Hast eat thy bearer up.” May 13, 2015 at 20:53

4 Answers 4


From Dictionary.com:


Chiefly North Atlantic, South Midland and Southern US Nonstandard

A simple past tense of "eat".

A Newfoundlander I once met
recounted that he had just et.
I said "...have eaten"
and was roundly beaten
for he was greatly upset!

It's common in British English. I remember being corrected in junior school (age 8) to say ATE instead of ET, and thinking it was an overcorrection, like saying Wed-nes-day.


I'm from Florida (pronounced Flah-rih-dah) and we always say 'et'. As in: "you're too late; we done et", or "we et before we came over".

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