Lay an egg

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Lay an egg is an idiom that has been in use for more than 100 years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom lay an egg, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To lay an egg means to fail, to produce a humiliating flop. The expression lay an egg may have its roots in British cricket in the 1860s, when a score of zero became known as a duck egg. The American slang for a score of zero is a goose egg. The current meaning of the idiom lay an egg began in the late 1800s in American vaudeville, to mean a show that was unsuccessful or an act that the audience didn’t like. In the 1920s, the term came to mean any failure or humiliating flop. Related phrases are lays an egg, laid an egg, laying an egg.


If his goalie laid an egg in Game 1 of the Canadiens series, would the coach feel pressure to make a switch? (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Their lows have been ugly, as the Empire came out of the gates in January and laid an egg at launch weekend. (The Dallas Morning News)

Yollick had originally intended to give Keough the egg in a symbolic gesture “for laying an egg” with the order, but spotted the judge and took a different approach, he said. (The New York Post)