Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Chiefly British Something with both good and bad qualities.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A thing which has good and bad parts, but is overall spoilt by the bad.

Etymologies

From a story in Punch about a curate who, having been served a bad egg by his bishop, said that parts of it were excellent.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From an 1895 cartoon in Punch, in which a timid curate assures his host, the bishop, that "parts" of his bad egg are excellent. (Wiktionary)

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  • 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:

    "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.

    December 12, 2007