Now, Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English.
On this program, we explore common expressions and idioms a little more in depth, Today, we discuss a popular and common food – eggs!
People who like eggs think they are egg-xecllent (excellent)! Egg-traordinary (extraordinary)!! Egg-mazing (amazing)!!!
Okay, that last one didn’t really work.
So, let’s talk about cooking with eggs.
In the mid-1970s, the U.S. American Egg Board -- a group that represents egg farmers -- wanted to create an advertising campaign that captured the usefulness and versatility of the egg. Its ad campaign, called “The Incredible, Edible Egg,” told of all the health benefits and showed all the ways we can use eggs in our meals.
For a party or a snack, in a mousse or in a pack, making omelets for the gang, in a salad or merengue, for a treat right after play, in an elegant soufflé … the incredible, edible egg.
And it’s true. We use eggs in so many different dishes. And they are one of the most common breakfast foods in the United States. We eat them sunny side up, scrambled or poached, fried on a sandwich or cooked with vegetables or cheese in an omelet.
And that brings us to this cooking-related idiom: “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”
We often say this as an answer to several different situations.
Let’s say you have an important goal or task. Well, sometimes you must do unpleasant things in order to complete that task or meet that goal. You can say you had to break a few eggs (those are the unpleasant things) to make the omelet (that is the task or goal).
However, we usually use this idiom in the negative form.
Ok, here is another situation. Sometimes “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” means it is impossible to get something important done without creating a problem for someone else. So, the result may be good for you, but not for everyone.
Let’s hear it used this way in a dialogue.
And that’s all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories.
Until next time … I’m Anna Matteo.
Do you have egg idioms in your language? Let us know in the Comments Section.
Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. The song at the end is Leo Sayer singing “Can’t Make an Omelet Without Eggs” from the movie The Missing Link.
Words in This Story
idiom – n. an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own
extraordinary – adj. extremely good or impressive
amazing – adj. causing great surprise or wonder : causing amazement
versatility – n. the quality or state of having many uses or being able to do many different kinds of things
edible – adj. fit to be eaten
scrambled – adj. to prepare (eggs) by stirring during frying
poach – v. to cook in simmering liquid
negative – adj. a proposition which denies or contradicts another : an expression (such as the word no) of negation or denial
glitter – n. very small, shiny objects used to decorate a surface
recipe – n. a set of instructions for making food