eat up the distance

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redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Example: She reached the doorway just in time to see the two creatures running through the moonlight and to the cliffside, the larger one dragging the smaller after it.
Their long legs ate up the distance to the cliff before Elizabeth could run more than two steps in their direction

Source: Timepiece, Heather Albano

Background: Elizabeth and William kicked in the door of a house and found two creatures beating their friend Max to a pulp. Elizabeth came to his rescue but was easily thrown up against the wall. The creatures seemingly had no desire to fight, and hustled through the back door to the cliffside. Elizabeth tried to chased after them even as the pain shot up through her entire body.
I guess the use of "eat up the distance" in the example corresponds to this definition:

[transitive] eat up something to travel a particular distance easily and steadily (MacMillian Dictionary)
My question is, does the phrase only suggest the manner in which the creatures were running but not necessarily mean the creatures were running fast?
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "Their long legs ate up the distance to the cliff before Elizabeth could run more than two steps in their direction"

    What do you suppose the "before Elizabeth could run more than two steps in their direction" implies?
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks sdgraham. My first reaction on reading it was that the creatures picked up speed and ran fast to the cliffside. But the way M-W puts it makes it sound like the implication of traveling fast isn't automatic. But your answer reinforces the view that traveling fast is implied.
     
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