In today’s idiom post we are going to be examining the meaning and origin of the phrase, “Nest Egg.” This phrase may bring to mind images of an early spring day and catching a glimpse of birds’ eggs in a nest. In reality, the phrase has nothing to do with birds at all. It is used quite often as a short handed way of referring to personal funds that have accumulated over the years. Have you ever heard this phrase in casual conversation? Its origins lie in an old superstition believed to incentivize hens to lay more eggs.

Idiom: Nest Egg

Definition: A term used to describe a person’s life savings, which have been put aside for later use.

Example: “You can build your own nest egg by putting aside a percentage of your salary each month.”

Origin: Since the early 14th century, people have practiced putting eggs in a hen’s nest, believing that this would encourage the hen to lay a set of her own. The eggs used can be real, although some also use eggs made of china.

nest egg The current usage of the term ‘nest egg’ as an expression started in 1686, although it did not appear in print until 1927 in a set of letters printed by Locke & Clarke. No formal explanation has been given on why this has become the chosen term to describe savings, but it is believed that this is because of the fact that the eggs mentioned above can later be retrieved once the hen has laid more eggs.

Some also believe that this term is derived from the fact that there are more eggs in the nest later compared to before one places the first egg into the hen’s nest.

Accent Pros Idioms Series

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