eat his paycheck

Stephen Schmidt

Senior Member
Ash blonde, his favorite blonde of all. Barbie offered his most engaging smile. The girl driving the pickemup responded with one of her own, and oh my Lord if she was a ticktock over nineteen, he’d eat his last paycheck from Sweetbriar Rose. Too young for a gentleman of thirty summers, no doubt, but perfectly street-legal, as they’d said back in the days of his cornfed Iowa youth.
This is Under the Dome by Stephen King. What does to eat one's paycheck mean? To spend it, perhaps?
Context: He, Barbie, decided to leave the town and was on his way out of it when he heard a car coming along the road behind him.
He wished the driver would pick him up, and when he looked, he saw a blonde woman behind the wheel of an old Ford pickup.
Thanks in advance.
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An older version is to eat one's hat, e.g.

    Someone might say, "If that's true, I'll eat my hat!"

    Of course no-one ever actually ate their hat. They are just so certain that they don't believe they could be proved wrong.

    If he eats his pay check then he not only eats something unpalatable but he has lost his wages as well.

    He means he is absolutely certain that her age is less than nineteen. If he is proved wrong then he will put his pay check in his mouth and chew and swallow it. (of course he will not actually do so)
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Here is the dictionary entry for the original phrase.
    From the WR dictionary page on "hat": eat one's hat, This phrase is used to express disbelief that something will happen: If that train arrives on time, I'll eat my hat.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree with the double meaning offered in post #2.

    The financial instrument (paycheck) creates the difference from "I'll eat my hat." (and men don't wear hats these days.)
    < Previous | Next >