What Does Binge and Purge Mean?

Binge and Purge Meaning

Definition: To consume too much (literally or figuratively) and then expulse it all.

This idiom is most frequently seen in connection with eating disorders, particularly bulimia; someone will eat more than is comfortable or healthy, and then vomit everything up. Usually there is a cycle of bingeing and purging that repeats uncontrollably.

On rare instances the idiom may be used in a more figurative sense, where someone may, for example,

binge on TV watching (watch too much) and then purge by abstaining from all TV.

Origin of Binge and Purge

binging and purging meaningThe origin of the exact phrase is unknown; the first identified case of the bingeing and purging eating disorder, however, is known to be documented in 1959 by a psychiatrist called Albert Stunkard who saw evidence of people eating large amounts of food at irregular intervals.

In 1987, binge eating was listed in the American Pyschiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This legitimized the condition and increased its awareness.

Examples of Binge and Purge

In modern day, both American and British English speakers use binge and purge to talk about the eating disorder bulimia.

  • She was bingeing and purging for years before getting help from a doctor.

binge-purge syndromePeople can be more flexible with the phrase and say things like, “I had a shopping binge this weekend; I
need to purge my closet now,” or, “I binged on video games yesterday; I’m purging now, and I won’t play for a whole week.”

More Examples

  • In reality, though, this type of eating [cleansing] pretty closely mimics the dangerous binge-and-purge style of eating recognized globally as indicative of an eating disorder. –Business Insider
  • It’s a ghoulish process, the prioritizing of death. Social media allows us all to participate in a chorus of grief that sometimes feels like a competition. We binge and purge on the dramatic tragedy. –The Korea Times


To binge and purge is to consume too much of something—usually food—and then purge by abstaining from or physically removing what has been consumed.