Tucked in or what?

Is there any connection between the phrase ‘to be tucked in’ (to be put to sleep) and ‘to tuck in’ (to eat with great appetite? I mean you can first make your kid tuck in and then tuck her in, can’t you?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: Taking food order[YSaerTTEW443543]

To tuck a child into bed doesn’t mean to make him go to sleep. It means that after you put the child into bed, you push the edges of the upper sheet and the blanket, under the mattress. This makes the covers taut and makes the child feel like he’s securely in bed. Many children like this feeling, so they go to sleep faster if the covers are tucked in.

So you can’t make a child tuck in; you tuck the covers in, thereby tucking the child in.

The use of “tuck in” for eating is something I’ve never heard, and I wouldn’t understand it if you hadn’t explained it to me.

I haven’t heard about the use of “tuck in” for eating either, but I personally think that the word “tuck” simply has the meaning of “to push something, especially the edge of a piece of cloth or paper, into or behind something so that it looks tidier or stays in place”. Thus the word can be used in many context, and ot just in tucking a child into bed

Hi Torsten,

I know the expression ‘tuck in’ in both meanings. Here it would be an informal request to a guest who is eating at your table to start eating. It is often used when the guest seems reluctant to start eating and has to be encouraged: Come on tuck in! you say or even more direct: Dig in!

Oh how basic we are in the UK!

I suppose the ‘connection’ with the other use of ‘tuck in’ is that as you eat, you fold the food into your mouth. Oh that’s even more basic. Sorry.


We use the expression ‘Dig in’ on this side of the pond, too.
Like Jamie, if you said ‘Tuck in’ (in connection with eating) to me, I would not have understood what you were talking about.

It seems that ‘Tuck in’ with that meaning is only “basic” on certain isolated islands. :wink:

Maybe the original connection is that the person (in the old days, or in low society) was supposed to tuck his napkin into his shirt before he started to eat.


That sounds very plausible but I’m a bit worried about the ‘low’ society reference. Is that sort of ‘tucking in’ regarded as ‘low’ where you live?


I’d thought of that possibility too, Jamie.
I’d also tried to imagine what I would have understood if someone had said “Tuck in” to me in the context of beginning a meal. I think my first reaction would have been to think that everyone was to ‘tuck their chair in’ a little closer to the table (i.e. tuck themselves in). :lol:

I would have thought that members of the ‘low society’ weren’t even able to afford napkins.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEFL listening lectures: Why do the Lascaux cave paintings probably not qualify as graffiti?[YSaerTTEW443543]

When I was a child, my mother taught me that the proper location of one’s napkin during a meal was in one’s lap. Tucking it into the collar area of your shirt would have been seen as bad manners.

Me too, but people who think you should literally “dig in” would also be likely to expect you to tuck your napkin into your shirt.

You folks must not get out much - the phrase tuck-in (to mean “eat up”) is an EXTREMELY common term in England, Australia, Ireland, and parts of Canada.

It’s no more “low” society that you’re using phrases like “dig in”, “chow down”, or (wrt drink) “bottoms up”.

Didn’t Billy Bunter spend most of his time in the Tuck Shop.? LOL.

Why do we not ask a dictionary?

tuck (v.)
c.1385, “to pull or gather up,” earlier “to pluck, stretch” (1273, implied in tucker), probably from M.L.G. or M.Du. tucken “pull up, draw up, tug” (cognate with O.E. tucian “mistreat, torment,” and related to O.E. togian “to pull,” Ger. zucken; see tow). Sense of “thrust into a snug place” is first recorded 1587. Slang meaning “to consume, swallow” is recorded from 1784. The noun is first attested 1387.
etymonline.com/index.php?sea … hmode=none