In my language, we have a word (a verb) for messy eating. When someone is eating messily, like when they play with their food, eat carelessly, or mess up their plate by making it look unappetising and gross, we say they are "balboocheh" (verb). This word is similar "muddle", "jumble" or "garble", except these words I believe don't really pertain "eating messily" (or perhaps they can be used so?).

In a sentence, the word should be used in this sense:

"Sara, stop [insert word]-ing your spaghetti. Eat properly!"

  • Do you mean munching? Or guzzling, gulping, gobbling? (There may be a duplicate.) – Decapitated Soul Sep 17 '20 at 13:40
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    English has a number of these words with some fuzzy overlaps. For instance, I might be caught gobbling some foods, but I'd be slurping spaghetti. – TaliesinMerlin Sep 17 '20 at 14:02
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    @DecapitatedSoul's words imply eating greedily rather than messing up food on the plate. Parents sometimes say to children "Don't play with your food!" – Kate Bunting Sep 17 '20 at 15:20
  • small children? – David Sep 17 '20 at 16:46
  • Helping the pea soldiers navigate Lake Gravy and climb Mount Mashed Potato - I still do it now! – Michael Harvey Sep 17 '20 at 17:04

One verb that applies to the context of making a mess while eating is "slop". However it is specific to the act of letting food or liquid come out of a container in an untidy way (OALD).

  • Sara, stop slopping your spaghetti. Eat properly!

Two example from Google Books

One Hundred Non-royalty Radio Plays Tillie : Stop slopping that soup ! Stop it , I said ! Joe : I ' m awful hungry , dear . I ' ve had a hard day at the shop . We ' ve got to produce these days . Tillie : That ' s it . That ' s it ; you ' ve got to produce .

Baltimore: A Novel ... your finger out of the soup ! ' , ' Stop slopping your food ! ' , ' Wash your ears ! ' , ' Pick up your clothes ! ' ” “ Daddy , when are you going to come back and live with Mommy again ? ” Ann asked . Rick swallowed ,

"Fiddle" is a more general term, but not connoting especially the idea of a mess in the dish. "Fiddling" implies touching with the hands.

  • "Sara, stop fiddling with your spaghetti. Eat properly!"
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    I have never hear slopping like that. The water slopped out of the bucket, yes. The salt water was now slopping over the sides of the boat. – Lambie Sep 18 '20 at 22:39
  • falling out of a recipient??? What does that mean? No Mom, I swear I didn’t do anything, the food just fell out of my mouth. – Jim Sep 19 '20 at 3:43
  • @Jim "Recipient" is incorrect (that can't be anything else than a person); the word meant was "container". Thanks for catching that. – LPH Sep 19 '20 at 11:50

Ravage gets close, and there are examples of it being used in this way:

As long as you're not like ravaging your food and making a mess and being gross or something your good. (reddit)

Um, maybe you should try to eat slowly and respectfully instead of ravaging your food like a barbarian horde on PCP... (rpg.net)

I see that you have a fork there... Why? (Billy Idol lip curl)

I honestly dont know. I thought I’d be a little civil and use it but ended up just ravaging my food with my bare hands. (reddit)

Al looked at Paisley, who was ravaging the watermelon, gripping the U-shaped slice with both hands, pink juice running down his forearms. (Prince Edward: A Novel, Dennis McFarland)


How about twiddle? From Lexico:

twiddle: Twist, move, or fiddle with (something), typically in a purposeless or nervous way.

Your example:

"Sara, stop twiddling your spaghetti. Eat properly!"

  • 1
    spaghetti is meant to be twiddled, onto a fork. – Lambie Sep 18 '20 at 22:41
  • @Lambie Can you provide an authoritative reference for that? Also, note that the question concerns food broadly, not only spaghetti. – Richard Kayser Sep 18 '20 at 22:43
  • Of course not, but think about it just a little bit. The Italians eat spaghetti with a spoon and fork. You push the spaghetti onto the fork, and then wind is around the fork. That could be described as twiddling. Just for the record, google dict. twist, move, or fiddle with (something), typically in a purposeless or nervous way. So you are right but so am I. – Lambie Sep 18 '20 at 22:47
  • @Lambie I understand your point, and you may be right with regard to spaghetti, but I wouldn't call twiddling one's spaghetti purposeless or done in a nervous way. You need a spaghetti-specific reference to support your point. And then there are all those other kinds of food not spaghetti. – Richard Kayser Sep 19 '20 at 14:27
  • @Lambie I have heard "twirl one's spaghetti". Lexico defines twirl (with object) as cause to rotate and provides this as the first example: ‘she twirled her fork in the pasta.’ – Richard Kayser Sep 19 '20 at 14:41

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