mid-14c., from northern England dialect, from Old Norse egg, which vied with Middle English eye, eai (from Old English æg) until finally displacing it after 1500; both are from Proto-Germanic *ajja(m) (cf. Old Saxon, Middle Dutch, Dutch, Old High German, German ei, Gothic ada), probably from PIE *owyo-/*oyyo- "egg" (cf. Old Church Slavonic aja, Russian jajco, Breton ui, Welsh wy, Greek oon, Latin ovum); possibly derived from root *awi- "bird." Caxton (15c.) writes of a merchant (probably a north-country man) in a public house on the Thames who asked for eggs:
And the goode wyf answerde, that she coude speke no frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry, for he also coude speke no frenshe, but wolde have hadde egges, and she understode hym not.She did, however, recognize another customer's request for "eyren." Bad egg in the figurative sense is from 1855. To have egg on (one's) face "be made to look foolish" is attested by 1948.
[Young & Rubincam] realize full well that a crew can sometimes make or break a show. It can do little things to ruin a program or else, by giving it its best, can really get that all-important rating. They are mindful of an emcee of a variety show who already has been tabbed "old egg in your face" because the crew has managed to get him in such awkward positions on the TV screen. ["Billboard," March 5, 1949]Eggs Benedict attested by 1898. The figure of speech represented in to have all (one's) eggs in one basket is attested by 1660s.
The female sexual cell or gamete; an ovum.
To fail, or to have one's efforts fall flat: “Jim tried to tell a few jokes, but each time he forgot the punch line and laid an egg.”
A female gamete.
[first sense altered fr the mid-19th-century term bad egg, ''bad or rotten person'']
(Heb. beytsah, "whiteness"). Eggs deserted (Isa. 10:14), of a bird (Deut. 22:6), an ostrich (Job 39:14), the cockatrice (Isa. 59:5). In Luke 11:12, an egg is contrasted with a scorpion, which is said to be very like an egg in its appearance, so much so as to be with difficulty at times distinguished from it. In Job 6:6 ("the white of an egg") the word for egg (hallamuth') occurs nowhere else. It has been translated "purslain" (R.V. marg.), and the whole phrase "purslain-broth", i.e., broth made of that herb, proverbial for its insipidity; and hence an insipid discourse. Job applies this expression to the speech of Eliphaz as being insipid and dull. But the common rendering, "the white of an egg", may be satisfactorily maintained.