Main definitions of egg in 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.

    • ‘They also eat other small aquatic creatures, including fish eggs and very small fish, and will feed at salmon spawning areas.’
    • ‘Brood parasites in general lay eggs with shells thicker than those of their hosts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Females cause significant tree damage when they rake back the bark of twigs to lay their fertilized eggs.’
    • ‘Females ready to lay fertilized eggs always seem eager to lay them on other bugs, regardless of their sex.’
    • ‘Clutch size is the number of eggs in a clutch of an average-sized female.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Successfully incubated eggs hatch about two months later.’
    • ‘Female penguins don't eat for at least a week before laying an egg or two.’
    • ‘The bulk of flu vaccine production today is done using fertilized chicken eggs and takes months.’
    • ‘In general, birds require at least one day to lay an egg, and many species delay incubation until their entire clutch is laid.’
    • ‘Embryos in the eggs do not begin to develop until their mother warms them through incubation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some amphibians and fish lay eggs in clusters, with the outer ones protecting the inner ones.’
    • ‘In spring, fertilized aphid eggs hatch under the bark of a cottonwood tree.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘To this day, many reptiles bury their eggs, whereas nearly all birds leave them exposed.’
    • ‘Sperm from the same male could be used to fertilize eggs from several females and vice versa.’
    • ‘Field Sparrows are not known to eject cowbird eggs.’
    • ‘When most birds incubate eggs, the females often produce high levels of prolactin, a hormone involved in parental behavior.’
    • ‘Fertilized eggs often hatch at the beginning of the growth season but may continue to hatch intermittently thereafter.’
    ovum, gamete, germ cell, zygote
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An infertile egg, typically of the domestic hen, used for food.
      • ‘Instead, for long-term mental performance, you need protein-rich foods like eggs and peanut butter.’
      • ‘She forgets she had a hard-boiled egg for breakfast.’
      • ‘Margaret kept John in order with a healthy diet, eggs from their own chickens, homemade brown bread, jam, and yoghurt.’
      • ‘Protein-rich foods include meats, eggs and dairy products, as well as legumes and nuts.’
      • ‘People exist on sausage, bread, eggs, maybe some chicken, things like that.’
      • ‘My diet has always included generous amounts of meat, butter, eggs, fried foods, chips, and cheese.’
      • ‘Place sweetbreads on plate and top with poached quail egg.’
      • ‘I had a fried goose egg for lunch.’
      • ‘Patrick scooped two fried eggs onto each plate.’
      • ‘Food was short, and products like meat, eggs, butter, honey, fruit, and vegetables could fetch a good price.’
      • ‘I was eating scrambled eggs for breakfast, accustomed to the lukewarm food by now.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So David cooked up a wonderfully greasy breakfast, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread, our first fry-up for months!’
      • ‘He looked fresh as a daisy and was eating scrambled egg on toast off a sky blue plate.’
      • ‘Cholesterol is found in foods such as eggs, shellfish, meat and dairy products.’
      • ‘Ryan then cooks us a great brunch of bacon, eggs and sausages, mushrooms & tomatoes.’
      • ‘Health experts say eating eggs and chicken meat is safe, as long as they're well-cooked.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 A thing resembling a bird's egg in shape.
      ‘chocolate eggs’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hope you all have a nice holiday and don't eat too many chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘Hundreds of chocolate Easter eggs were delivered to sick children at a Bristol hospital by kind-hearted bikers.’
      • ‘Winners were given chocolate eggs and a basket of Easter treats.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Well, the time has come for me to devour some chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘Put the Easter eggs in the fridge, I'm coming home.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Easter came early for hundreds of children in hospital when football stars arrived with scores of 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.’
      • ‘Today Lent is over and chocolate eggs are about to be opened.’
      • ‘We'll exchange chocolate eggs and in that exchange will go our hopes for new life and peace in a troubled world.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In our house the chocolate eggs are given (along with warnings that they shouldn't be eaten all at once) at breakfast or brunch.’
      • ‘At Easter, my five-year-old received £16 as well as a cupboard-full of chocolate eggs.’
      • ‘She also has some chocolate eggs ready for her family members, schoolmates and a neighbourhood friend she thinks will show up.’
      • ‘There are sinful treats such as chocolate eggs, hot cross buns, Easter saffron cake, and ginger cookies.’
    3. 1.3Architecture A decorative oval molding, used alternately with triangular figures.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The eggs are sometimes divided by an anchor or dart, as in the accompanying example.’
  • 2Biology
    The female reproductive cell in animals and plants; an ovum.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Scientists are harvesting stem cells from fertilized human eggs and doing experiments to develop medical cures.’
    • ‘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 said yesterday that they had grown an unlimited supply of eggs from embryonic stem cells taken from both male and female embryos.’
    ovum, gamete, germ cell, zygote
    View synonyms
  • 3dated, informal with adjective A person possessing a specified quality.

    ‘she was a good egg’
    • ‘It's a shame that one bad egg can ruin it for everyone.’
    • ‘The festive period will only be enjoyable when we all work with the police to rid our communities of the bad eggs.’
    • ‘When police arrested those identified to be culpable in the riots, it was only normal that bad eggs should be separated from good ones.’
    • ‘He was surprised that Alison didn't turn out to be bad egg, considering her living conditions.’
    • ‘Dealing with a really bad egg, Wilson said, gobbles up time.’
    • ‘A few bad eggs are behind the trouble, the rest just happen to have nowhere better to be.’
    • ‘Like anything else, there are bad eggs in the bunch.’
    • ‘But most thought only of combatting corruption and getting rid of the bad eggs.’
    • ‘Her husband was the bad egg in the family.’
    • ‘They are a very friendly people for the most part but like any society have their bad eggs too.’
    • ‘The last guy that sent her flowers was a motorcycle gang member, a real bad egg.’
    • ‘Punitive people are said to be bad eggs in all sorts of ways.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Of course it is true that there are bad eggs among members of the public too, that want to evade tax.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, we continue to warn that there are more than just a few bad eggs in the Police Service.’
    • ‘I have no problem getting rid of bad eggs because I don't work with bad eggs.’


  • don't put all your eggs in one basket

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

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

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

      • ‘If I were you, I'd tell him to go suck an egg and stay out of my way.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I don't blame him for losing in the first round and don't think he laid an egg.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I would have been left with egg on my face if I had been wrong.’’
      • ‘Suddenly the profits of doom were left with egg on their face as the Blues relished life at the summit.’
      • ‘If the bad results continue to snowball, Dick will be left with egg on his 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.’’
      • ‘If you don't secure your computers you could end up with egg on your face.’
      • ‘So the Aussies are home and the Irish left with egg on their face.’
      • ‘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.’
  • kill the goose that lays the golden egg

    • Destroy a reliable and valuable source of income.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Boy oh boy, you guys sure know how to kill 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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘Why would the United States want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, our sense of security in our property rights?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘No point in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, is there?’
      • ‘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.’


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




Main definitions of egg in English

: egg1egg2



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

    • ‘The other patrons were terrifically entertained, egging him on; not a dissenting view was heard.’
    • ‘The man keeps going, the reporter egging him on.’
    • ‘My pal's front room was packed, the audience egging me on so to speak, as I downed the first few in quick succession.’
    • ‘You can't help but warm to her, sharing her enjoyment and egging her on.’
    • ‘Another was in the vicinity, egging him on with shouts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Standing next to me was a fellow patient, a burly Scotsman, egging me on: ‘Go on, son, you can do it.’’
    • ‘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…’
    • ‘Most regular readers of this blog can do their own ‘tut-tutting’ without me egging them on.’
    • ‘The man looked sick, but people around him were egging him on, encouraging him.’
    • ‘I also plead guilty to egging Val on to write about his air force experiences.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The big scandal is that some of the people in the chat room were egging him on to take more.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He rings up bosses where there is a dispute and either eggs them on, or urges them to continue the dispute.’
    • ‘Only last Saturday they were egging me on to buy four-inch heel patent-leather sandals in the window at Dolcis.’
    • ‘Jones could be heard egging Flintoff on from his spot on the boundary.’
    • ‘How could I both surrender to the demon sitting on my shoulder, egging me on, yet not give myself away?’
    • ‘Her sister Vanessa egged her on to drive a hard bargain and advised her to withhold the story unless ‘money is paid beforehand’.’
    • ‘In particular, Harry lacks the humour and the menace he should display in egging George on.’
    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’.