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?

  • "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
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 20:34
  • 2
    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. Commented 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
    Commented 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.” Commented May 13, 2015 at 20:53
  • @Robusto That sounds similar to people saying "done" instead of "did" (as in "He didn't have to do what he done.")
    – Nicole
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 20:54

5 Answers 5


From Dictionary.com:


Chiefly North Atlantic, South Midland and Southern US Nonstandard

A simple past tense of "eat".

  • Strictly random opinion. No sociolinguistic surveys cited. Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 17:47
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".


My family is from Southeastern Iowa and central Missouri. My grandmother always asked as we came in the door, "have you et yet?". She also would ask us to "red" up the table. I was an adult before I realized other folks also used these words!

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