eat our lunch

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eat our lunch

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:32 pm

In this week’s issue of Newsweek, Anna Quindlen in her column ‘The Last Word’ said the following:
<2006 “It was whether, given its [[China’s]] size, its economic clout and its increasing dominance in the world today, it will someday EAT OUR LUNCH.”—‘Newsweek,’ 1 May, page 74>
Never heard this use of EAT OUR LUNCH before, but it is clear that it means to take away what someone thinks to be rightfully theirs; control and beat decisively; and figuratively, to gain a position of power and 'take the food off our plates.' I’ve not been able to find the expression listed in any phrase dictionaries, but I've found many examples of its use with the earliest dating from 1976:
<1976 “‘We’ve [[baseball’s San Francisco Giants]] played well against the good teams. But you watch us against Montreal and Chicago and St. Louis and Houston. They just EAT OUR LUNCH.”—‘Los Angeles Times,’ 15 September, page D1>

<1984 “Direct mailers and the U.S. Postal Service were portrayed as the principal threats to newspaper ad revenues at last week’s American Newspaper Publishers Association convention here. ‘Make no mistake about it,’ a speaker told the convention. ‘The mailers are out to EAT OUR LUNCH.’”—‘Chicago Tribune,’ 6 May, page W5>

<1984 “One Democratic staff aide expressed the widespread sentiment that Mr. Dole would ‘EAT OUR LUNCH’ if pitted regularly against Mr. Byrd on the nightly news.”—‘New York Times,’ 9 December, page

<1987 “However, should other [[steel]] producers lower their prices, Mr. Roderick indicated that USX would respond: ‘We’re not going to sit out in the cold. We’re not going to let somebody EAT OUR LUNCH.’”—‘New York Times,’ 5 February, D1>

<1987 “‘We said while we’re fiddling around spending all this money, (our competitors) are going to EAT OUR LUNCH,’ Mr.Guarriello says.”—‘Wall Street Journal,’ 12 June, page 73>

<1992 “And how did the Japanese so easily EAT OUR LUNCH? They had those Wise Civil Servants in Tokyo delivering ‘administrative guidance,’ directing Japanese companies to sunrise industries like robots, biotechnology, computers, and software.”—‘New York Times,’ 26 April, page A1>

<1997 “What do complacent Americans say? Pass the cranberry sauce. Clinton - Lulled by economy, he's coasting, Five years, and where's the legacy? Asia - Old: Tigers of global economy EAT OUR LUNCH. New: Sick kittens will eat our leftovers.” ‘Newsweek,’ 8 December>

<2004 “India will EAT OUR LUNCH, China dinner: UK firms”—‘The Tribune’ (Chandigarh, India), 10 February>

<2004 “Tim Penny, a former Democratic congressman from Minnesota who was on the commission, said the time has come to face up to the financing gap in Social Security and the even larger one in Medicare. ‘These are hugely expensive programs that are going to EAT OUR LUNCH if we don’t make some changes sooner than later,’ said Penny, who has left the Democratic Party to become an Independent.”—‘MSNBC,’ 12 November>

<2005 “Will the United States be part of the most exciting medical research [[stem cell research]] of our time? With global competitors poised to EAT OUR LUNCH, a few private and state-funded efforts won't be enough. ‘Newsweek,’ 6 June>

<2005 “Why Asia Will EAT OUR LUNCH”—‘Business Week,’ 20 June>

<2005 “Will China EAT OUR LUNCH or Take Us Out to Dinner? Simulating the Transition Paths of the U.S., EU, Japan, and China”—‘National Bureau of Economic Research,’ October>

<2006 “‘The average Joe, when the smoke all clears, will be asked to pony more money to bail out a failed system,' Stengel said of PERA's [[Public Employees Retirement Association]] proposal. 'This will EAT OUR LUNCH.’”—‘Denver Post,’ 7 February, page C.04>
Ken G – April 26, 2006
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eat our lunch

Post by RWalter » Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:58 am

It's interesting to compare this expression to an earlier posting for "clean someone's clock." When someone "eats you lunch", I visualize someone sitting down in front of you and eating your food while you watch. It implies that you are too inattentive or passive to be able to stop the aggressor. By contrast, someone might put up a good fight, but still get their "clock cleaned".
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eat our lunch

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:25 am

Most recently, I have encountered this term being used about the fate of the major American car manufacturers as they face the competition from Japanese makers in particular. For example, in a Business Week article dated 2005-07-11, Chester Dawson wrote:

"When Katsuaki Watanabe, Toyota Motor's incoming president, met in Tokyo with General Motors Corp. Chief Executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. on May 14, they had dinner. They might have done better meeting earlier in the day, though, since Toyota continues to eat GM's lunch".
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eat our lunch

Post by Wizard of Oz » Fri Apr 28, 2006 8:36 pm

.. haven't heard the expression Downunder in any common way but did find a couple of entries on Aussie websites ..
Come on - I'm supposed to switch back to IE just because they copy Firefox? Thanks, but no thanks - I've also seen a beta copy of Vista and compared with OS X it's a piece of turd. Apple is going to eat Micro$oft's lunch for the remainder of this decade.
Source: ZD Net Australia website, 10/11/05.

"It's a dog-eat-dog global marketplace out there," Glickman said. "If we unilaterally choose not to take advantage of new overseas opportunities, our friends in Europe, Canada, Australia and Argentina will eat our lunch. They will fill the orders we lose and gain permanent access to the Chinese market."
Source: Excerpts: Agriculture Secretary Glickman Feb. 28 2000 on China/WTO at US Embassy website
.. however, in the second quote the speaker is definitely American and in the first there is a great chance that the person responding to an Aussie article was an American writer ..
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eat our lunch

Post by drdanme » Mon May 01, 2006 7:32 pm

My first encounter with this phrase was in the mid-90s. A friend of mine, who had studied dance at a local conservatory, moved to New York City to try her hand at it professionally. She returned after several unsuccessful months. Her (very emphatic) description of her time away was "New York ate my lunch."
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