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curate's egg

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noun British.
  1. something discreetly declared to be partly good but in fact thoroughly bad.
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Origin of curate's egg

after a cartoon by G. du Maurier in the English humor weekly Punch (Nov. 9, 1895): a meek curate, when served a bad egg at the bishop's table, replies that “parts of it are excellent”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for curate's egg

curate's egg

noun
  1. something that has both good and bad parts
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Word Origin

C20: derived from a cartoon in Punch (November, 1895) in which a timid curate, who has been served a bad egg while breakfasting with his bishop, says that parts of the egg are excellent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012