Chicken and egg situation

A chicken and egg situation, sometimes rendered as a chicken and egg problem, is an idiom with roots in ancient times. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase chicken and egg situation, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

The idiom a chicken and egg situation has two related definitions. First, a chicken and egg situation may be one in which it is impossible to decide which of two things caused the other thing, or which of two things existed first. For instance, an employee who performs poorly may blame it on having a surly boss. However, the boss may claim to be surly because the employee performs poorly. It is virtually impossible to untangle which situation existed first, so it is a chicken and egg situation. Another definition of a chicken and egg situation is one in which the solution to the problem also causes the problem. For instance, an unemployed person usually needs experience in order to secure a job. However, a person can only gain experience by having a job. The idiom a chicken and egg situation goes back to an old exercise in logic proposed by Aristotle in the fourth century BC still discussed today: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Examples

The counsel of the grounded airline said the lack of clarity on the slots has resulted in a ‘chicken and egg’ situation for the South America’s Synergy Group which is the sole company shown interest in the airline. (The Deccan Herald)

“I understand it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg situation here, but I also want to have the utmost confidence that when the shovel goes into the ground, this project will be finished.” (The Idaho Mountain Express and Guide)

“The trouble is it‘s a chicken and egg situation – people want to use electric vehicles but they can‘t because the infrastructure‘s not there – and the infrastructure‘s not going to be built until the demand is there,” he said. (The Wellston Journal)