I am looking for a more expressive way to say that something takes time/delays something important. Does the following expression make sense in English?

a tech glitch that eats time (of an important meeting, for instance)

  • 2
    I'm a native English speaker. A few minutes ago I literally said, "Wow, that really eats a lot of my free time every day." to a co-worker. May 31, 2018 at 2:52
  • @HotLicks You should leave that as an answer itself, rather than answering in comments :)
    – V2Blast
    May 31, 2018 at 4:22
  • 1
    You'd probably say "eats up time".
    – Anthony
    May 31, 2018 at 9:47

1 Answer 1


The more idiomatic way to say it is that it eats up time:

An example of eat used as a verb is to say that something eats up time meaning it takes a lot of time.
Your Dictionary

Here's an example:

With manual methods, answering these questions is a Herculean task that eats up time better spent on other projects.
Dell Software — Enterprise Reporter

  • 3
    abs ’the collocation I’m used to seeing is eats up a lot of time
    – Jim
    May 30, 2018 at 20:50
  • Yeah, you don't really have to get into chewing and digestion to use eat up -- it just means 'use too much of', whether it's something real, like paint (That sprayer eats up the paint too fast) or something imaginary, like time being exchanged for some experience in the Time Is Money metaphor theme. May 30, 2018 at 22:02
  • I also often see "It's eating up a lot of my time" when talking about something that's currently occuring
    – SGR
    May 31, 2018 at 7:23
  • 1
    I've also heard (and used) into used as an alternative to up. "I had to tell my boss the project is eating into time I should be spending with my kids." Also referenced here. May 31, 2018 at 9:33
  • Bear in mind that "eating into" is only really appropriate when you have another specific block of time that is being reduced (eaten into) by the expansion of the first block. i.e. the time with your kids in your example. May 31, 2018 at 11:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.