bad egg


bad egg
see also, good egg (antonym)


  • someone who fails to meet expectations
  • a disappointing or unpleasant person
  • a corrupt or unreliable person
  • a rogue

Example Sentences

  1. Stay away from Gordon. He’s a thoroughly bad egg and the biggest bully in the school.
  2. The new boy is always getting into trouble and doesn’t seem to care. I think he’s a bad egg.
  3. Steer clear of Roger in the sales department. He’s always trying to swindle people out of money. He’s a bad egg.
  4. Some tenants are very nice, but there have been some ‘bad eggs.’
  5. Ryan Christie is the bad egg in the team.
  6. One bad egg can impact the overall well-being of a company.


The phrase was originated right in the mid-19th century. And the terms bad egg first appeared in print in the novel “Captain Priest” by Samuel A Hammett published in 1855.

Some birds are said to carry brick-bats under their wings to sharpen their bills, and others, stones in maws to whet their appetites, but the Perfect Bird carries a brick in his hat and a stone in his boot.

In the language of his class, the Perfect Bird generally turns out to be “a bad egg.”

There are also a lot of sources saying it was a slang term alluding to a person’s good or bad character in English public schools. Most agree that ‘bad egg‘ came first, and it was many years before ‘good egg‘ came into common usage, usually in humour.

There was a necessity back in the days before food standards were so high to check that you didn’t crack a bad egg in amongst the other ingredients. Cookbooks advised to crack eggs into a separate bowl to be sure. One bad egg could spoil it all and the metaphor now refers to one bad person amongst all the other good ones.

Another initial use of the phrase in that context can be found in the Milwaukee Daily American, September 1856:

Mayor Wood is moving heaven and earth to procure his renomination. One of his dodges is, to get up letters in the newspaper, pretending to emanate from ‘distinguished citizens,’ including merchants, mechanics and working men, soliciting him in the most pathetic terms to present himself to the dear people. There are also on the list a number of notorious blacklegs whom Woods keeps in pay. He is a bad egg.

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