verb (used with object)

to prepare (food) by dipping in beaten egg.


    egg on one's face, Informal. humiliation or embarrassment resulting from having said or done something foolish or unwise: They were afraid to back the losing candidate and wind up with egg on their faces.
    lay an egg, Informal. to fail wretchedly, especially to be unsuccessful in front of an audience: He laid an egg as the romantic hero.
    put all one's eggs in one basket, to venture all of something that one possesses in a single enterprise.
    walk on eggs, to walk or act very cautiously.

Origin of egg

before 900; Middle English < Old Norse; replacing Middle English ey, Old English ǣg, German Ei egg; akin to Latin ōvum, Greek ōión egg
Related formsegg·less, adjectiveegg·y, adjective

Pronunciation note

Egg, like beg, leg, and other words where “short e” precedes a “hard g” sound, is pronounced with the vowel [e] /ɛ/ of bet and let, except in parts of New England and the South Midland and southern U.S., where these words are frequently said with [-eyg] /-eɪg/, to rhyme with vague and plague, especially in the speech of the less educated. This raising of [e] /ɛ/ to a higher vowel [ey] /eɪ/, articulated with the upper surface of the tongue closer to the palate, also occurs before [zh] /ʒ/, as in measure, pleasure, and treasure.



verb (used with object)

to incite or urge; encourage (usually followed by on).

Origin of egg

1150–1200; Middle English < Old Norse eggja to incite, derivative of egg edge Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for egging

Contemporary Examples of egging

Historical Examples of egging

  • Her friends near by kept nudging her, egging her on to stand her ground.

    Mayflower (Flor de mayo)

    Vicente Blasco Ibez

  • For my own part, I have no liking for war, but you women will be for ever egging us on!

    Erling the Bold

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • Only I shall come along these cliffs, egging or watching the birds, as often as I like.

    The Lost Middy

    George Manville Fenn

  • Bascom and Botcher are egging him on and making him believe he has.

  • Napoleon was a burden to them; they overthrew him by egging him on to war of which he was so fond.

British Dictionary definitions for egging




the oval or round reproductive body laid by the females of birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, and some other animals, consisting of a developing embryo, its food store, and sometimes jelly or albumen, all surrounded by an outer shell or membrane
Also called: egg cell any female gamete; ovum
the egg of the domestic hen used as food
something resembling an egg, esp in shape or in being in an early stage of development
bad egg old-fashioned, informal
  1. a bad person
  2. an exclamation of dismay
good egg old-fashioned, informal
  1. a good person
  2. an exclamation of delight
lay an egg slang, mainly US and Canadian
  1. to make a joke or give a performance, etc, that fails completely
  2. (of a joke, performance, etc) to fail completely; flop
put all one's eggs in one basket or have all one's eggs in one basket to stake everything on a single venture
teach one's grandmother to suck eggs to presume to teach someone something that he knows already
with egg on one's face informal made to look ridiculous

verb (tr)

to dip (food) in beaten egg before cooking
US informal to throw eggs at

Word Origin for egg

C14: from Old Norse egg; related to Old English ǣg, Old High German ei




(tr usually foll by on) to urge or incite, esp to daring or foolish acts

Word Origin for egg

Old English eggian, from Old Norse eggja to urge; related to Old English ecg edge, Middle Low German eggen to harrow
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

Word Origin and History for egging



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.



c.1200, from Old Norse eggja "to goad on, incite," from egg "edge" (see edge (n.)). The unrelated verb meaning "to pelt with (rotten) eggs" is from 1857, from egg (n.). Related: Egged; egging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

egging in Medicine




The female sexual cell or gamete; an ovum.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

egging in Science



The larger, usually nonmotile female reproductive cell of most organisms that reproduce sexually. Eggs are haploid (they have half the number of chromosomes as the other cells in the organism's body). During fertilization, the nucleus of an egg cell fuses with the nucleus of a sperm cell (the male reproductive cell) to form a new diploid organism. In animals, eggs are spherical, covered by a membrane, and usually produced by the ovaries. In some simple aquatic animals, eggs are fertilized and develop outside the body. In some terrestrial animals, such as insects, reptiles and birds, eggs are fertilized inside the body but are incubated outside the body, protected by durable, waterproof membranes (shells) until the young hatch. In mammals, eggs produced in the ovaries are fertilized inside the body and (except in the cases of monotremes) develop in the reproductive tract until birth. The human female fetus possesses all of the eggs that she will ever have; every month after the onset of puberty, one of these eggs matures and is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube, where it is either fertilized or discarded during menstruation. In many plants (such as the bryophytes, ferns, and gymnosperms) eggs are produced by flasked-shaped structures known as archegonia. In gymnosperms and angiosperms, eggs are enclosed within ovules. In angiosperms, the ovules are enclosed within ovaries. See also oogenesis.
In many animals, a structure consisting of this reproductive cell together with nutrients and often a protective covering. The embryo develops within this structure if the reproductive cell is fertilized. The egg is often laid outside the body, but the female of ovoviviparous species may keep it inside the body until after hatching.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

egging in Culture


A female gamete.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with egging


In addition to the idioms beginning with egg

  • egg in your beer
  • egg on
  • egg on one's face, have

also see:

  • bad egg
  • good egg
  • goose egg
  • kill the goose that lays the golden eggs
  • lay an egg
  • put all one's eggs in one basket
  • walk on eggs
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.