Is "fast" interchangeable with "quick" when it comes to eating?

I am a quick eater.

I am a fast eater.

I hear people say "don't eat too quickly" but not "fastly," so I'm wondering if one of the examples above is wrong.

2 Answers 2


They may not always be interchangeable, but either one of the alternatives you provide is acceptable.

As far as “fastly” goes, you've encountered the strange beast known as the flat adverb.

This Wikipedia stub provides a little history on flat adverbs, which were once much more common.

There's no shortage of debate on Apple's use of “different” and “feeling bad(ly)”, and unfortunately no definitive list of flat adverbs exists, but “fast” is the only correct adverbial form in this case. So, either

Don't eat too quickly.


Don't eat too fast.

would be fine.

There are some (very) subtle differences between them, but they are not only quite minimal, they're also somewhat subjective. There may also be regional preferences, but I wouldn't worry about those either.


Is "fast" interchangeable with "quick" when it comes to eating?

I love this question.

The short answer is, yes, I think the two are interchangeable in that particular context. I would interpret both:

I am a fast eater


I am a quick eater

to mean that a person scarfs down their food: they generally wolf down their breakfast, gobble up their lunch, and devour their evening comestibles with haste.

However, if we move outside the realm of eating, this interchangeability wouldn't necessarily hold. For example, I don't think:

I am a fast athlete


I am a quick athlete

would necessarily mean the same thing. Athletes who are quick have fast reflexes, or have "quick hands," whereas athletes who are fast would win footraces. An athlete who is fast isn't necessarily quick, and vice-versa. Similarly:

Paul is a fast driver

means that Paul drives at high speeds, probably breaking speed limits. However, I wouldn't use

Paul is a quick driver

to describe his driving habits.

NOAD says:

quick (adj.) moving fast or doing something in a short time

fast (adj.) performing or able to perform a particular type of action quickly

As one could expect from those two definitions, there is much overlap in how and where these two words can be applied. In the case of eating, "consuming a meal in a short time" and "consuming a meal quickly" are generally one in the same. However, going back to one of my previous examples, the main reason I wouldn't describe Paul as a "quick" driver is because fast also has this definition:

fast (adj.) moving or capable of moving at a high speed

When describing things that are moving at high speeds (like Paul's car), it's best to use fast rather than quick.

Therefore, the two words are not 100% interchangeable in all contexts.

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