early 14c., devouren, of beasts or persons, "to eat up entirely, eat ravenously, consume as food," from Old French devorer (12c.) "devour, swallow up, engulf," from Latin devorare "swallow down, accept eagerly," from de "down" (see de-) + vorare "to swallow" (from PIE root *gwora- "food, devouring"). Of persons or inanimate agents (fire, pestilence, etc.) "consume destructively or wastefully," late 14c. To "swallow up" figuratively (a book, etc.) from 1580s; to "take in ravenously" with the eyes, 1620s. Related: Devoured; devouring.