Curate’s Egg – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What does curate’s egg even mean? If that’s a question on your mind, then you came to the right place, where we decipher the seemingly strange phrases that make language so interesting. Before you go thinking it has something to do with a religious figure’s breakfast, let’s unravel the true meaning and see how you can use this phrase.

Is It Curate’s Egg or Curates Egg?

It’s curate’s egg, with the apostrophe. The term refers to something that’s partly good and partly bad, kind of like an egg offered to a curate that’s good in parts.

The Curate’s Egg Meaning Explained

Curates Egg – Idiom Origin Meaning

A curate’s egg is basically something that’s a mixed bag, something that has both good and bad parts. It’s the sort of thing you’d say when you’re trying to politely point out that while parts of something were excellent, other parts… well, not so much.

It reminds me of when I bought a bulk box of Lego pieces for one of my many side hobbies. I knew I’d get a bunch of parts I wanted, but I also accepted the fact that I’d get a few useless ones.

Curate’s Egg Origin and Etymology

Curates Egg Ngram
Curate’s egg usage trend.

The term curate’s egg comes from a cartoon published in the British humor magazine Punch in 1895. The British cartoon, titled “True Humility,” features a meek curate (a junior clergy member) who, when served a rotten egg at the bishop’s table, tries to assure his host that “parts of it are excellent.”

Synonyms for Curate’s Egg

  • Mixed bag
  • Partly good and partly bad
  • Good in spots
  • Hit and miss
  • Something with highs and lows

Using a Curate’s Egg in a Sentence

Curates Egg – Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • The film was a curate’s egg — the storyline was engaging, but the acting left much to be desired.
  • Reviews for the restaurant were a curate’s egg; while some praised the food, others criticized the service.
  • The new political policies are a bit of a curate’s egg, good in parts but very concerning in others.
  • His performance was a curate’s egg — outstanding in some areas, but in others, he lacked precision.
  • The city itself is a curate’s egg, with some areas flourishing while others disrepair.
  • The software update is a curate’s egg — it fixed some bugs but introduced others.
  • The vacation was a curate’s egg; the beach was wonderful, but the hotel was disappointing.
  • My internship was a curate’s egg — I gained useful experience but often felt undervalued.

You Get What You Get

And just like that, you’re an expert on the term curate’s egg. Now you can politely indicate mixed quality without making a stink — much like the original curate from the cartoon! Language is full of surprises, kind of like a curate’s egg. If you want to know more fun idioms like this one, hang around our site for a bit!