Idioms are great to use if you want to sound more like a native English speaker. Learn 14 common idioms with the word egg in this blog post. Learn the meaning and hear it used in natural English sentences.
- A Hard Egg To Crack/A Tough Egg To Crack
- A Nest Egg
- Can’t Boil An Egg
- Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch
- Go Suck An Egg
- Good Egg/Bad Egg
- To Egg Someone On
- To Get Egg On Your Face
- To Kill The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs
- To Put All Eggs In One Basket
- To Walk On Eggshells
- What Came First The Chicken Or The Egg?
- You Can’t Make An Omelet Without Breaking Some Eggs
Check out this list and learn some new idioms that native speakers really use. If you can think of some EGG idioms that I left out, please tell me in the comments!
Egg Definition – Noun and Verb
[countable] a small oval object with a thin hard shell produced by a female bird and containing a young bird; a similar object (without a hard shell) produced by a female fish, insect, etc.
- The mother we’ll sit on the eggs until the baby chicks hatch.
- Some fish can lay thousands of eggs at one time.
We also use the noun egg to talk about pic of a bird (usually a chicken) that we eat, we use for food.
- Kenneth has a boiled egg every morning for breakfast with a slice of toast.
Egg is also what we call a cell that combines with a sperm to create a baby or young animal (not a bird)
- Male sperm fertilizes the female egg.
The verb egg is used in the phrasal verb egg on. You find the definition and example sentence for the phrasal verb egg on in the idiom list below.
English Egg Idioms
A hard egg to crack/A tough egg to crack
A person or a situation or problem is difficult to understand or to solve. This idiom comes from the idea that the shell of an egg is hard, but what we want is on the inside. If the shell is hard it is difficult to get inside to what we really want.
- I’d like to buy a present for Spencer’s birthday but he’s a very quiet person and I’m not even sure what he’s interested in. Getting him a good present will be a tough egg to crack.
- The boss wants us to double the company’s revenue in 18 months. This will be a hard egg to crack in this economy.
This idiom has the same meaning as a tough nut to crack.
- The boss wants us to double the company’s revenue in 18 months. This will be a hard nut to crack in this economy.
A nest egg
A nest egg is money you have put away for the future, usually for your retirement. It’s money you have saved to use when you eventually stop working later in your life.
- Walter was finding it hard to build a nest egg with his current income. He thinks it may be time to start looking for a better job with higher pay.
- Henry felt very comfortable with the nest egg he has built over the years. He’s thinking about retiring in the near future.
Can’t boil an egg
This idiom is used for people who have zero cooking skills. Boiling an egg is probably the easiest thing to make in the kitchen, so if someone can’t do this they have no cooking skills at all.
- I had five guests over for dinner last night. I hired a caterer to prepare the food, I didn’t even think about cooking it myself. I can’t even boil an egg.
- Tony has lived with his parents his whole life and as a result, he doesn’t have many life skills. He doesn’t know how to do laundry, he’s not good at cleaning up and he can’t boil an egg to save his life.
To tell the difference between a raw egg and a boiled egg, spin it. Boiled eggs spin easily and raw eggs wobble. LINK
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
Chickens hatch from eggs. This idiom is a warning to not make plans for the future based on things that have not happened yet. An egg is not a chicken until it has hatched.
- Alison is up for a new promotion at work so she decided to take all her friends to dinner at a nice restaurant. I warned her not to act like she has been promoted already because it’s not decided yet. You shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch.
- The team was getting excited about the final game but there is still a semi-final match to win before they qualify. The coach warned them not to count their chickens before they hatch. They have to take the semi-final game seriously because their opponents are quite strong.
An egghead is someone who is very smart. This idiom can be used in a negative way to insult someone or in a playful way to acknowledge that someone is quite smart.
- People always called Scott an egghead but there’s nothing wrong with being smart. He also happens to be a really nice guy.
- I don’t care about the science fair. Some egghead wins it every year.
Go suck an egg
This is a phrase used in North America that someone might say to another person if they are angry with them.
- I asked my brother if I could borrow his video game and he told me to go suck an egg. How rude.
Good egg/Bad egg
If we call someone a good egg or a bad egg it means they are a good person or bad person in a very general way. A good egg is someone you can trust and be friends with. A bad egg is someone who is not trustworthy and should be avoided.
- I really like Vanessa, she’s a good egg and always helps people when she can.
- Her brother Victor is a bad egg. He’s always doing something he shouldn’t be doing. They are so different, I can’t believe they are related.
To egg someone on
To egg someone on is to encourage the person to do something that is not good.
- Luther threw eggs at the bus but his friends were egging him on which didn’t help.
- If he doesn’t want to do it doesn’t have to. Don’t egg him on.
To get/have egg on your face
If someone has egg on their face it means they’re embarrassed or ashamed of something they have done that everyone has seen or knows about.
- After the cyber security company had their site hacked and sensitive data leaked online they were left with egg on their face.
- Many people who put money into cryptocurrency as a solid investment now have egg on their faces.
To kill the goose that lays the golden eggs
To ruin or stop something that was earning money for you.
The English idiom “Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg”, comes from one of Aesop’s Fables “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs“
It’s the story of a goose that lays a golden egg every day. The owners of the goose couldn’t wait for a new golden egg every day, so they killed the goose and cut it open hoping to find the source of gold inside. There was no gold inside. The owners used to have the goose that give them a golden egg every day but now they have nothing.
- The company fired Michael last week because the boss was angry. The problem is that Michael was the number one salesman in the company. The boss just killed the goose that lays the golden eggs. What a terrible mistake.
*We can also advise someone using a version of this idiom “ Don’t kill the Golden Goose.”
- I know you’re mad at Michael but don’t do anything crazy, he’s the best salesman we have. You don’t want to kill the Golden Goose because you’re angry. Take some time to cool down before you do anything.
To put all eggs in one basket/To have all eggs in one basket
To invest all your resources into only one thing. If you put all your resources into one project and it doesn’t work out, then you have lost everything.
*I think this idiom comes from an older warning for a business or company to not load all your goods into one ship. It means don’t put all of your stock into one boat as it travels across the oceans. If it sinks you will be left with nothing.
- If you are investing, it’s good to have your money spread across several different companies and investments. It’s never a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket.
My friend usually juggles two or three girls at the same time. He says that you should never have all your eggs in one basket, but I don’t think he is using this idiom correctly!
To walk on eggshells
Eggshells are very fragile so we can understand that walking on eggshells means to walk very carefully and gently.
This is used in situations when someone is emotional and is easily upset. You have to be careful and gentle with what you say around them or they will be unhappy. We need to walk on eggshells.
- Calvin has a very fragile ego. I always have to walk on eggshells whenever I talk to him. The smallest things upset him.
- Deborah is getting married next weekend and she is stressed and worried about everything. We will all be walking on eggshells for the next few days until after the ceremony.
What came first the chicken or the egg?
This is sometimes called the chicken-and-egg problem. It’s a question that seems to have no logical answer.
– Chickens lay eggs.
– Eggs hatch into chickens.
– It seems like you can’t have a chicken without an egg but you also can’t have an egg without a chicken.
Learn more about this question at Wikipedia > Chicken or the Egg?
Brown eggs are more expensive than white eggs. Hens that lay brown eggs are larger and need more food! LINK
You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs
Sometimes you have to do unpleasant things to achieve a goal. They may be difficult and can cause small problems but they’re necessary.
- Dillon tried many unsuccessful businesses before finally finding success. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
- They’re going to remove the park in the center of town and replace it with a shopping mall. Their reasoning is that this is the price of progress, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
Did I forget any egg idioms? Please tell me in the comments.
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