verb (used with object), fed, feed·ing.

  1. to give food to; supply with nourishment: to feed a child.
  2. to yield or serve as food for: This land has fed 10 generations.
  3. to provide as food.
  4. to furnish for consumption.
  5. to satisfy; minister to; gratify: Poetry feeds the imagination.
  6. to supply for maintenance or operation, as to a machine: to feed paper into a photocopier.
  7. to provide with the necessary materials for development, maintenance, or operation: to feed a printing press with paper.
  8. to use (land) as pasture.
  9. Theater Informal.
    1. to supply (an actor, especially a comedian) with lines or action, the responses to which are expected to elicit laughter.
    2. to provide cues to (an actor).
    3. Chiefly prompt: Stand in the wings and feed them their lines.
  10. Radio and Television. to distribute (a local broadcast) via satellite or network.

verb (used without object), fed, feed·ing.

  1. (especially of animals) to take food; eat: cows feeding in a meadow; to feed well.
  2. to be nourished or gratified; subsist: to feed on grass; to feed on thoughts of revenge.


  1. food, especially for farm animals, as cattle, horses or chickens.
  2. an allowance, portion, or supply of such food.
  3. Informal. a meal, especially a lavish one.
  4. the act of feeding.
  5. the act or process of feeding a furnace, machine, etc.
  6. the material, or the amount of it, so fed or supplied.
  7. a feeding mechanism.
  8. Electricity. feeder(def 10).
  9. Theater Informal.
    1. a line spoken by one actor, the response to which by another actor is expected to cause laughter.
    2. an actor, especially a straight man, who provides such lines.
  10. a local television broadcast distributed by satellite or network to a much wider audience, especially nationwide or international.
  11. Digital Technology.
    1. a website or application that publishes updates from social media or news-collection websites in reverse chronological order: I follow all of the latest celebrity gossip in my Twitter feed.
    2. an XML-based web document that is updated automatically at predetermined intervals and includes descriptive titles or short descriptions and links to recent pages on a website: Subscribe to news feeds to get the latest news from around the world.
  1. chain feed, to pass (work) successively into a machine in such a manner that each new piece is held in place by or connected to the one before.
  2. off one’s feed, Slang.
    1. reluctant to eat; without appetite.
    2. dejected; sad.
    3. not well; ill.

verb feeds, feeding or fed (fɛd) (mainly tr)

  1. to give food toto feed the cat
  2. to give as foodto feed meat to the cat
  3. (intr) to eat foodthe horses feed at noon
  4. to provide food forthese supplies can feed 10 million people
  5. to provide what is necessary for the existence or development ofto feed one’s imagination
  6. to gratify; satisfyto feed one’s eyes on a beautiful sight
  7. (also intr) to supply (a machine, furnace, etc) with (the necessary materials or fuel) for its operation, or (of such materials) to flow or move forwards into a machine, etc
  8. to use (land) as grazing
  9. theatre informal to cue (an actor, esp a comedian) with lines or actions
  10. sport to pass a ball to (a team-mate)
  11. electronics to introduce (electrical energy) into a circuit, esp by means of a feeder
  12. (also intr; foll by on or upon) to eat or cause to eat


  1. the act or an instance of feeding
  2. food, esp that of animals or babies
  3. the process of supplying a machine or furnace with a material or fuel
  4. the quantity of material or fuel so supplied
  5. computing a facility allowing web users to receive news headlines and updates on their browser from a website as soon as they are published
  6. the rate of advance of a cutting tool in a lathe, drill, etc
  7. a mechanism that supplies material or fuel or controls the rate of advance of a cutting tool
  8. theatre informal a performer, esp a straight man, who provides cues
  9. informal a meal

Old English fedan “nourish, feed, sustain, foster,” from Proto-Germanic *fodjan (cf. Old Saxon fodjan, Old Frisian feda, Dutch voeden, Old High German fuotan, Old Norse foeða, Gothic fodjan “to feed”), from PIE *pa- “to protect, feed” (see food). Feeding frenzy is from 1989, metaphoric extension of a phrase that had been used of sharks since 1950s.


“action of feeding,” 1570s, from feed (v.). Meaning “food for animals” is first attested 1580s. Of machinery, from 1892.

In addition to the idioms beginning with feed

  • feed one’s face
  • feed someone a line
  • feed the kitty

also see:

  • bite the hand that feeds you
  • chicken feed
  • off one’s feed
  • put on the feed bag

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