In India, "spoon feeding" is widely used in context of education where the students are taught in a manner by which they do not have to do much on their own. Everything will be done by the teachers, and the students just have to understand the notes.

Is this phrase used in other parts of the world also? Specifically, if I were to use it in a conversation with people from other cultures, will they get the meaning of the phrase?

  • Thanks @Joe, but I have heard sentences like "spoon feeding is the cause of students not being innovative". So is that wrong? – rest_day Jun 13 '11 at 21:27
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    Hi Rest, no it is not at all wrong. I'm just saying that "spoon-fed" is much more common than "spoon-feeding". Sorry for the confusion. The key point is that YES it is an absolutely commonplace derisive metaphor, in all English-speaking countries. We've spoon-fed you the answer here! :-) – Fattie Jun 13 '11 at 21:42

Spoon feeding is used both idiomatically and literally. It is literally feeding someone (typically a baby) with a spoon by placing food on the spoon and then putting the spoon in the recipient's mouth until they remove the food using their tongue or lips. The only action required by the person being spoon-fed is to close the lips after the spoon has been inserted into the mouth and swallow the food.

In the more idiomatic or metaphorical use, it refers to someone doing something for someone else to such a extent that the person being "spoon-fed" has to do only the absolute minimum. Since most people have experience with how babies are fed, even if someone is not immediately familiar with the metaphor, it is pretty self-explanatory, unlike some idioms which make no sense unless you know the idiom. In the case of a class where students don't have to do any thinking, analysis, or practical tasks but just memorization of facts could be an example of "spoon feeding".

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    +1 although you seem to have overlooked one very frequent outcome in the part "until they remove the food using their tongue or lips". You could also have added "or spit it back in the face of the spoon holder". – Alain Pannetier Φ Jun 13 '11 at 18:38

I hear this a lot in the US in the context of education. It is generally said negatively (teachers spoon-feed the answers that will get kids past the state exams, etc). The opposite of spoon-feeding is teaching people to work (or think, in this case) for themselves.

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    It is also well understood in Australia. – dave Jun 13 '11 at 19:18
  • And I've heard it in Ireland. – TRiG Jun 14 '11 at 16:48

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