Main definitions of egg in US English:

: egg1egg2



  • 1An oval or round object laid by a female bird, reptile, fish, or invertebrate, usually containing a developing embryo. The eggs of birds are enclosed in a chalky shell, while those of reptiles are in a leathery membrane.

    • ‘Sperm from the same male could be used to fertilize eggs from several females and vice versa.’
    • ‘Females cause significant tree damage when they rake back the bark of twigs to lay their fertilized eggs.’
    • ‘Clutch size is the number of eggs in a clutch of an average-sized female.’
    • ‘Female penguins don't eat for at least a week before laying an egg or two.’
    • ‘Embryos in the eggs do not begin to develop until their mother warms them through incubation.’
    • ‘When most birds incubate eggs, the females often produce high levels of prolactin, a hormone involved in parental behavior.’
    • ‘They lay an egg in the nest of another bird, such as a reed warbler, and when the new cuckoo hatches it kicks out the reed warbler chicks.’
    • ‘They also eat other small aquatic creatures, including fish eggs and very small fish, and will feed at salmon spawning areas.’
    • ‘In spring, fertilized aphid eggs hatch under the bark of a cottonwood tree.’
    • ‘In general, birds require at least one day to lay an egg, and many species delay incubation until their entire clutch is laid.’
    • ‘Larval fish break open their egg with their tail and swim free.’
    • ‘The saga begins as female wasps wriggle into an unripe fig through a small hole at the end and lay eggs in developing flowers inside.’
    • ‘Brood parasites in general lay eggs with shells thicker than those of their hosts.’
    • ‘Females lay eggs in other birds' nests and leave the rearing to other species.’
    • ‘If I buy a chicken now, how would I know when it is going to lay an egg?’
    • ‘Successfully incubated eggs hatch about two months later.’
    • ‘Females ready to lay fertilized eggs always seem eager to lay them on other bugs, regardless of their sex.’
    • ‘Fertilized eggs often hatch at the beginning of the growth season but may continue to hatch intermittently thereafter.’
    • ‘The bulk of flu vaccine production today is done using fertilized chicken eggs and takes months.’
    • ‘Some amphibians and fish lay eggs in clusters, with the outer ones protecting the inner ones.’
    • ‘Field Sparrows are not known to eject cowbird eggs.’
    • ‘To this day, many reptiles bury their eggs, whereas nearly all birds leave them exposed.’
    • ‘She will lay an egg approximately every day or two until she has a clutch of about three to five eggs, which may or may not all hatch.’
    • ‘The European cuckoo has several races or ‘gentes,’ each of which lays an egg of a different color or pattern to match its most common host or hosts.’
    ovum, gamete, germ cell, zygote
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An infertile egg, typically of the domestic hen, used for food.
      • ‘Margaret kept John in order with a healthy diet, eggs from their own chickens, homemade brown bread, jam, and yoghurt.’
      • ‘I had bacon, sausage, beans, tomatoes, a fried egg, bread and butter and a huge mug of steaming hot coffee; this comes top of my all time favourite meals.’
      • ‘My diet has always included generous amounts of meat, butter, eggs, fried foods, chips, and cheese.’
      • ‘More than three million Brits have tried or are on the controversial diet, which substitutes bread, pasta and potatoes for foods like meat, eggs and cheese.’
      • ‘Instead, for long-term mental performance, you need protein-rich foods like eggs and peanut butter.’
      • ‘People exist on sausage, bread, eggs, maybe some chicken, things like that.’
      • ‘Patrick scooped two fried eggs onto each plate.’
      • ‘I was eating scrambled eggs for breakfast, accustomed to the lukewarm food by now.’
      • ‘Place sweetbreads on plate and top with poached quail egg.’
      • ‘Cholesterol is found in foods such as eggs, shellfish, meat and dairy products.’
      • ‘I had a fried goose egg for lunch.’
      • ‘Health experts say eating eggs and chicken meat is safe, as long as they're well-cooked.’
      • ‘She forgets she had a hard-boiled egg for breakfast.’
      • ‘So David cooked up a wonderfully greasy breakfast, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread, our first fry-up for months!’
      • ‘Back home I did us a nice late breakfast of poached eggs on toast.’
      • ‘The breakfast buffet has everything from bacon and eggs to fruit, juices, pastries and cereals.’
      • ‘Food was short, and products like meat, eggs, butter, honey, fruit, and vegetables could fetch a good price.’
      • ‘Ryan then cooks us a great brunch of bacon, eggs and sausages, mushrooms & tomatoes.’
      • ‘Protein-rich foods include meats, eggs and dairy products, as well as legumes and nuts.’
      • ‘He looked fresh as a daisy and was eating scrambled egg on toast off a sky blue plate.’
    2. 1.2 A thing resembling a bird's egg in shape.
      ‘chocolate eggs’
      • ‘Winners were given chocolate eggs and a basket of Easter treats.’
      • ‘We'll exchange chocolate eggs and in that exchange will go our hopes for new life and peace in a troubled world.’
      • ‘This year, why not have them search for both real hard-boiled colored eggs as well as chocolate eggs?’
      • ‘The school held an Easter egg raffle in which more than 50 chocolate eggs were won by pupils, with money raised going towards school funds.’
      • ‘I ate some chocolate eggs, and was going to offer some to Dad when Mom told me not to; apparently he's not allowed anything like that.’
      • ‘At Easter, my five-year-old received £16 as well as a cupboard-full of chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘Today Lent is over and chocolate eggs are about to be opened.’
      • ‘She also has some chocolate eggs ready for her family members, schoolmates and a neighbourhood friend she thinks will show up.’
      • ‘Easter came early for hundreds of children in hospital when football stars arrived with scores of chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘Put the Easter eggs in the fridge, I'm coming home.’
      • ‘A man who bought 7,000 chocolate eggs won a barrage of prizes on the Internet including a holiday to Hong Kong, it was revealed yesterday.’
      • ‘I'm sure they had a cracking Easter with all those chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘There are sinful treats such as chocolate eggs, hot cross buns, Easter saffron cake, and ginger cookies.’
      • ‘Hope you all have a nice holiday and don't eat too many chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘While many of us are munching on our chocolate eggs this Easter, brave climber Richard Taylor will be taking on the largest peak on earth in a bid to re-write history.’
      • ‘Well, the time has come for me to devour some chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘In our house the chocolate eggs are given (along with warnings that they shouldn't be eaten all at once) at breakfast or brunch.’
      • ‘On Monday the 313 pupils were told by their headteacher that the mini chocolate eggs brought in by all the pupils for Comic Relief on Friday had been stolen.’
      • ‘Hundreds of chocolate Easter eggs were delivered to sick children at a Bristol hospital by kind-hearted bikers.’
      • ‘The tradition of giving a chocolate egg to mark the end of Lent dates back to the 19th century and shows little sign of waning.’
    3. 1.3Architecture A decorative oval molding, used alternately with triangular figures.
      • ‘The eggs are sometimes divided by an anchor or dart, as in the accompanying example.’
      • ‘The communion table is composed of a beautiful piece of Italian marble, 10 feet long, supported by two bronzed scrolls, and enriched with the honeysuckle and egg mouldings.’
  • 2Biology
    The female reproductive cell in animals and plants; an ovum.

    • ‘Scientists said yesterday that they had grown an unlimited supply of eggs from embryonic stem cells taken from both male and female embryos.’
    • ‘The cells of the fertilised eggs multiply, growing into embryos in an incubator adjusted to the temperature and carbon dioxide levels of the woman's body.’
    • ‘Early experiments on mice have already indicated the possibility of turning stem cells into eggs or sperm which could then be used to help infertile couples.’
    • ‘Premature ovarian failure occurs when the ovaries stop producing eggs and reproductive hormones well in advance of natural menopause.’
    • ‘Scientists are harvesting stem cells from fertilized human eggs and doing experiments to develop medical cures.’
    ovum, gamete, germ cell, zygote
    View synonyms
  • 3dated, informal with adjective A person possessing a specified quality.

    ‘she was a good egg’
    • ‘Like anything else, there are bad eggs in the bunch.’
    • ‘But most thought only of combatting corruption and getting rid of the bad eggs.’
    • ‘It is encouraging to see that Inspector-General of Police is determined to clean up the force whose image was being dented by a few bad eggs.’
    • ‘Her husband was the bad egg in the family.’
    • ‘The last guy that sent her flowers was a motorcycle gang member, a real bad egg.’
    • ‘I have no problem getting rid of bad eggs because I don't work with bad eggs.’
    • ‘The festive period will only be enjoyable when we all work with the police to rid our communities of the bad eggs.’
    • ‘He was surprised that Alison didn't turn out to be bad egg, considering her living conditions.’
    • ‘So even though he shows Ray as a heroin addict, philanderer and at times, generally bad egg, he can't quite bring himself to condemn the man for his actions.’
    • ‘Punitive people are said to be bad eggs in all sorts of ways.’
    • ‘The police command needs to scrutinise its ranks to see if there are some bad eggs that are not prepared to follow procedures of dealing with suspects.’
    • ‘When police arrested those identified to be culpable in the riots, it was only normal that bad eggs should be separated from good ones.’
    • ‘Of course it is true that there are bad eggs among members of the public too, that want to evade tax.’
    • ‘The admission by the council that it is infested with some bad eggs which are to be rooted out is a good starting point in dealing with the matter.’
    • ‘A few bad eggs are behind the trouble, the rest just happen to have nowhere better to be.’
    • ‘It's a shame that one bad egg can ruin it for everyone.’
    • ‘They are a very friendly people for the most part but like any society have their bad eggs too.’
    • ‘However, we continue to warn that there are more than just a few bad eggs in the Police Service.’
    • ‘Dealing with a really bad egg, Wilson said, gobbles up time.’
    • ‘The only hope is that somewhere, somehow there will be those in the ranks who are prepared to resist the temptation and are prepared to move against the bad eggs among them.’


  • don't put all your eggs in one basket

    • proverb Don't risk everything on the success of one venture.

      • ‘Diversify your holdings, so that you don't put all your eggs in one basket - regardless of how carefully you watch that basket.’
      • ‘Second, granny was right: don't put all your eggs in one basket.’
      • ‘Asset allocation works on a very simple principle: don't put all your eggs in one basket.’
      • ‘That is, don't put all your eggs in one basket - send two small spacecraft instead of one big one.’
      • ‘Although they violated a fundamental rule of investing - perhaps the fundamental rule of investing, that you don't put all your eggs in one basket - they feel a sense of betrayal, of having been defrauded.’
      • ‘Happily, overconfidence has a straightforward solution - don't put all your eggs in one basket.’
      • ‘Anyway, there's a lesson that comes out of it - don't put all your eggs in one basket.’
  • go suck an egg

    • informal as imperativeUsed as an expression of anger or scorn.

      • ‘I am me, and if you don't like it, you can go suck an egg!’
      • ‘And anyone who looks down on my dancing because I'm big can just go suck an egg.’
      • ‘If I were you, I'd tell him to go suck an egg and stay out of my way.’
  • lay an egg

    • informal Be completely unsuccessful; fail badly.

      • ‘After laying an egg like this, who is he to cast aspersions at the likes of Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese?’
      • ‘The team continued the annual tradition of laying an egg by acquiring a player that they didn't need for more money than he was worth.’
      • ‘I don't blame him for losing in the first round and don't think he laid an egg.’
      • ‘Upon graduating from Avondale High School for the Performing arts, I went to Clark Atlanta Unviersity and totally laid an egg.’
      • ‘The magazine really laid an egg with this article, which ranks right up there with the worst and most inaccurate articles they have ever published.’
  • with egg on one's face

    • informal Appearing foolish or ridiculous.

      ‘don't underestimate this team, or you'll be left with egg on your face’
      • ‘There's always a chance of danger from a free-kick or something, and you don't want to end up with egg on your face.’
      • ‘If the bad results continue to snowball, Dick will be left with egg on his face.’
      • ‘So the Aussies are home and the Irish left with egg on their face.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I would have been left with egg on my face if I had been wrong.’’
      • ‘If you don't secure your computers you could end up with egg on your face.’
      • ‘He added: ‘It was Julian's choice to do it the way he has done it and I just hope he doesn't end up with egg on his face.’’
      • ‘Suddenly the profits of doom were left with egg on their face as the Blues relished life at the summit.’
      • ‘If you don't want to end up with egg on your face, you had best approach the whole of today with a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘Just look at the Puerto Rican basketball team, a no-name crew with a 40-year-old centre that left a collection of millionaire celebrities with egg on their face.’
      • ‘Somewhere probably in the deepest recess of our minds is a memory we would rather forget, of a present we purchased that left us with egg on our face.’
  • kill the goose that lays the golden egg

    • Destroy a reliable and valuable source of income.

      • ‘Why would the United States want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, our sense of security in our property rights?’
      • ‘Boy oh boy, you guys sure know how to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!’
      • ‘What I would say to the greedy inhabitants of Haworth and any other place which relies on tourists for their bread and butter, is to take care that you don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.’
      • ‘So long as they see capital as the source of jobs, the source of wealth, the source of all progress, then their answer will be that they don't want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.’
      • ‘No point in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, is there?’
      • ‘But what the market makers truly don't seem to understand is that neither people nor markets can be controlled for long, and with every well-intentioned stabilization exercise, they risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.’
      • ‘Non-cricketing sports in India would go to any lengths for such coverage, and here he is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs!’
      • ‘The important thing today is not the redistribution of the national wealth, but its creation; here Socialism is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.’
      • ‘By outsourcing American jobs, American companies are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, the American consumer.’
      • ‘Therefore, as McCormick warns, we should take great care that regulations in the name of global warming ‘not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.’’


Middle English (superseding earlier ey, from Old English ǣg): from Old Norse.




Main definitions of egg in US English:

: egg1egg2



[with object]egg someone on
  • Urge or encourage someone to do something, especially something foolish or risky.

    • ‘The man looked sick, but people around him were egging him on, encouraging him.’
    • ‘Most regular readers of this blog can do their own ‘tut-tutting’ without me egging them on.’
    • ‘Blind-folded and with the crowd egging him on, the wand in his hand moved in the air swiftly and continuously in search of that elusive pot.’
    • ‘He rings up bosses where there is a dispute and either eggs them on, or urges them to continue the dispute.’
    • ‘Her sister Vanessa egged her on to drive a hard bargain and advised her to withhold the story unless ‘money is paid beforehand’.’
    • ‘When the Prime Minister is saying that we should all look at this in a calm, sensible and measured way his deputy stands up and starts egging us on, trying to get people to respond and wind people up.’
    • ‘The other patrons were terrifically entertained, egging him on; not a dissenting view was heard.’
    • ‘How could I both surrender to the demon sitting on my shoulder, egging me on, yet not give myself away?’
    • ‘You can't help but warm to her, sharing her enjoyment and egging her on.’
    • ‘The man keeps going, the reporter egging him on.’
    • ‘I also plead guilty to egging Val on to write about his air force experiences.’
    • ‘She is calling out to the other two, who are some distance behind her, egging them on with visions of cold beer and hot barbecued oysters at the end of the hike…’
    • ‘In particular, Harry lacks the humour and the menace he should display in egging George on.’
    • ‘My sister, who's more of a soul girl, is disgusted that this drunken, unshaved punk letch in a battered leather jacket is trying it on and that her skinhead brother's egging him on.’
    • ‘The big scandal is that some of the people in the chat room were egging him on to take more.’
    • ‘Standing next to me was a fellow patient, a burly Scotsman, egging me on: ‘Go on, son, you can do it.’’
    • ‘Another was in the vicinity, egging him on with shouts.’
    • ‘Jones could be heard egging Flintoff on from his spot on the boundary.’
    • ‘My pal's front room was packed, the audience egging me on so to speak, as I downed the first few in quick succession.’
    • ‘Only last Saturday they were egging me on to buy four-inch heel patent-leather sandals in the window at Dolcis.’
    urge, goad, incite, provoke, prick, sting, propel, push, drive, prod, prompt, induce, impel, spur on, cheer on
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old Norse eggja ‘incite’.