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Rotten egg

Posted by R. Berg on July 01, 2007

In Reply to: Rotten egg posted by Chris on June 30, 2007

: : I am looking for the origin for the phrase "Last one in/there is a rotten egg." I have looked all over for it and can't seem to find any information on it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

: A rotten egg is something, and, by analogy, someone that promises something useful but delivers something worse than useless. Your phrase, though, is just a schoolboy thing, I think. In our school it was 'last one in stinks'. It might have its roots in the idea that, in a group activity, hesitation or tardiness could be a sign that the individual's commitment or loyalty to the group was questionable; but I think it's usually just an innocent call for everyone to join in immediately and wholeheartedly.

According to Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British," the "rotten egg" children's taunt is originally U.S., from the late 19th century or the 20th. ~rb