curate's egg

This week, A.Word.A.Day is doing not words but 2-word phrases of the pattern X’s Y.

Today’s phrase was curate’s egg, which is based on an 1895 cartoon from Punch magazine.

A.W.A.D’s email didn’t include the cartoon, but Wikipedia’s entry for “curate’s egg” did, so I provide them both here:

This week’s theme: whose what?

curate’s egg (KYOOR-itz eg) noun

Something having both good and bad parts.

[From a cartoon in Punch magazine (London, UK) in which a timid curate (a junior clergy member), when served a stale egg at a bishop’s table, tries to assure his host that parts of the egg were edible:

Right Reverend Host: I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr. Jones!

The Curate: Oh no, My Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!

The cartoon was drawn by George du Maurier and published in the Nov 9, 1895 issue of the magazine. That makes it one of the very few terms whose origin we can pin down to a specific date.]

-Anu Garg (words at

“One act of sportsmanship by London Irish and a moment’s opportunism by Saracens separated these two sides after a curate’s egg of a match.” David Llewellyn; Saracens 24 London Irish 20; The Independent (London, UK); Nov 25, 2007.


3 Responses to curate's egg

  1. patience says:

    “Curate’s egg”–I like that.

  2. Chris says:

    I don’t get this cartoon?

  3. Terry says:

    Chris – the curate didn’t want to offend his boss the bishop by saying that yes, the egg he was getting in the bishop’s household was bad, since he was reliant on the bishop for finding him a job as a rector – but, of course, no part of a bad egg can really be good …

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