“I meant to give each of you some of this to take with you,” said she, “but as there is so little toast, you must have it now,” and she proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.
We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the least delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with which our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied. (Jane Eyre)

What’s the meaning of ‘on’?

3 Answers 3


I think the key word here is as, actually. The word as lets you know that it's a simile; the word on is just the preposition in the phrase "feast on [something]".

It means the same thing as if these words were inserted:

We feasted [on the food we had] that evening as [we would] on nectar and ambrosia [...]

  • 1
    +1, but I think your example would be better and less ambiguous if your example were "We feasted [on the food we had] that evening in the same way that [we would have feasted] on nectar and ambrosia [...]"
    – Matt
    Mar 5, 2013 at 2:42

I would paraphrase it like this:

We feasted that evening as if we were having nectar and ambrosia.

It helps to know what nectar and ambrosia are; from NOAD:

ambrosia (noun) [Greek & Roman Mythology] the food of the gods

nectar (noun) [Greek & Roman Mythology] the drink of the gods

The sentence means that, whatever they ate and drank that evening, it was particularly exotic or satisfying.


Feast on food = eat food

On is just a preposition that follows feast when it is used as a verb.

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