• Joanne Mason

Egg on One's Face

Even the most cautious people get egg on their face from time to time.

If you have egg on your face, you’ve just done something quite embarrassing or foolish.

Example 1

Victor sure had egg on his face when he misspelled our company’s name throughout the annual report!

Example 2

After the robbery, Janice had egg on her face once she realized she had left the door unlocked.

But why does the expression use eggs? Why not peanut butter, jelly, chocolate syrup, or butternut squash?

It sounds like egg was just the messy substance to fit the bill. I didn’t find a definite origin for this idiom, which is thought to be an American phrase from the mid-20th century.

But there are a few possibilities:

  • The literal mess you’d have if you had egg on your face.

  • The embarrassment performers might have felt after angry spectators threw eggs at them.

  • Eggy evidence a “egg-sucking” farm dog might have on its muzzle after stealing eggs from a nest.

Can you describe at time you’ve had egg on your face?


The Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches, Third Edition (Christine Ammer)

The Phrase Finder: “Egg on your face” (Gary Martin)

World Wide Words – Egg on one’s face (Michael Quinion)

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