lay an egg


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egg 1

 (ĕg)
n.
1.
a. A female gamete; an ovum. Also called egg cell.
b. The round or oval female reproductive body of various animals, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and insects, consisting usually of an embryo surrounded by nutrient material and a protective covering.
c. The oval, thin-shelled reproductive body of a bird, especially that of a hen, used as food.
2. Something having the ovoid shape of an egg.
3. Slang A fellow; a person: He's a good egg.
tr.v. egged, egg·ing, eggs
1. To cover with beaten egg, as in cooking.
2. Slang To throw eggs at.
Idioms:
egg on (one's) face Informal
Embarrassment; humiliation: If you do that, you'll end up with egg on your face.
lay an egg Informal
To fail, especially in a public performance.
put/have all (one's) eggs in one basket Informal
To risk everything on a single venture.

[Middle English egge, bird's egg, from Old Norse egg; see awi- in Indo-European roots.]

egg′less adj.
egg′y adj.

egg 2

 (ĕg)
tr.v. egged, egg·ing, eggs
To encourage or incite to action. Used with on: The racing fans egged their favorites on.

[Middle English eggen, from Old Norse eggja; see ak- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

lay an egg

- The egg in "to lay an egg" refers to "zero."
See also related terms for zero.
Farlex Trivia Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.

lay an egg

To do something that fails in its aim, such as telling a joke that no one finds funny.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited
References in classic literature ?
The second of Chanticleer's two wives, ever since Phoebe's arrival, had been in a state of heavy despondency, caused, as it afterwards appeared, by her inability to lay an egg. One day, however, by her self-important gait, the sideways turn of her head, and the cock of her eye, as she pried into one and another nook of the garden,--croaking to herself, all the while, with inexpressible complacency,--it was made evident that this identical hen, much as mankind undervalued her, carried something about her person the worth of which was not to be estimated either in gold or precious stones.
"Anyone else come across this?" A young hen can, apparently, lay an egg with no yolk.
The hens, which each lay an egg a day, were bought for 50p each from a charity which re-homes battery hens after they have ended their working life.