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“To Have or To Be Left with Egg on your Face”

Next week one of our students is going to show us how she paints eggs for Easter and this made me think about a funny idiom we have about eggs…

Where do you do your food shopping? Carrefour, beneath The English Tree, is very convenient for me, and there is also a supermarket not far from my home which I sometimes go to in the evening if I need something specific for dinner.

A few months ago I called at this supermarket on my way home from work. It was quite late, so I whizzed around with my shopping trolley buying fruit and vegetables, cheese, bread and milk – the usual essentials. Leaving my trolley in a corner, I chose a lot of vegetables, put them in plastic bags and weighed them because I wanted to make a vegetable soup.

It was only when I got to the check-out that I discovered that I had taken someone else’s trolley by mistake! There were no vegetables in my trolley – instead there was baby food, nappies (or diapers in the USA) – pannolini. My children are both adults so there was no way this trolley could be mine! Then I remembered that I hadn’t taken my trolley parked in the corner, but one that was parked next to me while I weighed my vegetables…aahh!

Turning round quickly, I saw her… a young mother with a baby….and a trolley full of vegetables. I walked over to her and apologized in my best Italian. I was left with egg on my face as I transferred food from her trolley to mine!

In English, we say we have or we are left with egg on our face when we feel stupid or embarrassed by something we have said or done. No one seems sure about the origins of this idiom, but it probably comes from the theatre when incompetent actors had eggs thrown at them by the audience and were forced to leave the stage with egg on their faces!

Here are some more examples:

  • Unfortunately a lot of politicians have egg on their faces after they promised to be transparent and honest and then we find out that they have been doing illegal things!
  • I was left with egg on my face when I told my daughter I was giving up chocolate, then she caught me eating a Kit Kat!

Can you think of any situations that have left you with egg on your face?

Happy Easter everyone and enjoy your chocolate eggs!!