if we consider the sentence birds consume spiders, and spiders consume flies

the "opposite" of that sentence is something like is flies <> spiders and spiders <> birds but, more active. As if the spider jumps down the birds throat.

I'm looking for that word. Something similar to "feeds into", but just one word ideally.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/consume was not much help, I'm considering it in the second or third context, but from the point of view of the thing being consumed

  • 6
    Feed itself is possible, though hardly conventional. Flies feed spiders, and spiders feed birds. Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 16:26
  • 2
    Nourish would be another possible verb. (As would sustain and energize.) Although less specific than feed, it seems more conventional to me. Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 19:25
  • 1
    Why does the obvious "feed" not work for you? "Flies feed spiders and spiders feed birds…" Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 20:54
  • Wriggling flies sate the spiders; web-plucked spiders nutrify the birds.
    – tblue
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 6:11
  • I think the problem with finding an active word is that spiders don't in general jump down birds' throats. The transformation into food is something almost invariably done to a creature, so it will be hard to find an active word that doesn't convey a strongly ironic or comedic tone, or in which there isn't a strong tendency to interpret the creature as an agent for the delivery of food as opposed to the creature's body being the food itself.
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 11:40

4 Answers 4


The word nourish is occasionally used this way, though usually for inanimate (or at least no-longer-animate) substances. From Merriam-Webster

  1. a. : to furnish or sustain with nutriment : FEED Plants are nourished by rain and soil.

A couple of examples of this usage:

This hypoallergenic kibble nourishes your cat
"James Wellbeloved Adult Cat Housecat - Duck" cat food ad

Research has shown that donated breast milk can nourish babies just as well as mother's own milk can.
Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, What to Expect the First Year, 2014.

In your case, you could say

Flies nourish spiders and spiders nourish birds.

The primary problem with this term (and also feed, as suggested in the comments and in M-W's definition for nourish) is that with animate subjects it is usually used to mean that the subject provides (some other) nourishment to the object: I nourish my children with healthy meals, nourish their imaginations with plenty of playtime, and nourish my skin with rich creams and lotions (that last one is probably debatable, science-wise). So readers may get a mental image of spiders bringing birdseed to birds, rather than crawling into the birds' mouths.

Even with this caveat, I think this is probably the best you can do, since offering oneself up to be eaten is a rare enough activity that there's not much call for an everyday verb to describe the action.

  • Just realized @JasonBassford also suggested this in a comment, as I was taking my sweet time to answer (or rather, working in an answer around paid activities...). So hat-tip to Jason!
    – 1006a
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 19:56

How about the phrase, "is/are consumed by"?

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    Hello, and welcome to EL&U. Please expand on your answer. Stack Exchange answers should be more than suggestions - they are expected to be authoritative. Links to examples of usage would help.
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 5:19

I'm looking for that word. Something similar to "feeds into", but just one word ideally. Either 'refuel' or 'replenish?'

www.healthline.com › health › post-workout-foods-hiit(sic) The bottom line. 'Refueling your body with nutritious, whole foods after HIIT is essential to ...'

Alternatively, replenish:to make full or complete again, as by supplying what is lacking, used up, etc.: to replenish one's stock of food. to supply (a fire, stove, etc.) with fresh fuel. to fill again or anew.

The fly refuelled the spider which, in turn, refuelled the bird.

The fly replenished the spider which, in turn, replenished the bird.



an animal hunted or seized for food, especially by a carnivorous animal

It can be used as a verb. For instance:

Birds preying on spiders is quite a sight!

  • Birds prey on spiders, spiders don't prey (on/in) birds. The question is looking for the opposite relation to eating, not a word describing the same relationship.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 14:16

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