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The meaning and origin of the expression: Over-egg the pudding

Over-egg the pudding

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Over-egg the pudding'?

To 'over-egg the pudding' is to go too far in exaggerating or embellishing something - to adorn or supply to excess.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Over-egg the pudding'?

Over-egg the pudding'Over-egg the pudding' is an English phrase and first appeared in the mid-19th century. It originated as a simple literal phrase alluding to the way that baked foods may be spoiled by using too many eggs.

The earliest examples of the phrase in print that I know of are from 1845 Robert Smith Surtees' novel Hillingdon Hall, 1845:

'We mustn't over-egg the pudding,' as the Yorkshire farmers say.

Francis Kildale Robinson's A glossary of words used in the neighbourhood of Whitby, 1876:

He ower-egg'd his market.

As the first of these refers to 'over-egg the pudding' as a Yorkshire expression and the second relates to the Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby, it's reasonable to surmise that the pudding in question is a Yorkshire Pudding.

My mother taught me (and so, this must be right) that Yorkshires are made from equal volumes of eggs, flour and milk. Too much of any ingredient and the pudding won't rise.

We have no smoking gun that points to 'over-egging the pudding' deriving from the cooking of Yorkshire Pudding but, as circumstantial evidence goes, the above looks quite convincing.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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