A curate’s egg

Bishop: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones”
Curate: “Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!”

I’ve been teaching patent law as an adjunct professor at University of Denver law school for some twenty years, and every one of my students over the years has heard my recommendation that they subscribe to The Economist. I think The Economist offers a very helpful non-American perspective on events of the day.

Today, reading The Economist, I learned the term a “curate’s egg”.  As Wikipedia explains, a curate’s egg is something that is mostly or partly bad, but partly good.  The term has its origin in a cartoon published in 1895 in the British humor magazine Punch.  Drawn by George du Maurier, it pictures a timid-looking curate eating breakfast in his bishop’s house. The bishop says:

I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones.

The curate, desperate not to offend his eminent host and ultimate employer, replies:

Oh no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!

A Google search for the term “curate’s egg” yields over a hundred thousand hits.


2 Replies to “A curate’s egg”

  1. I asked a few around me if they know what does “curate’s egg” mean after reading the same article in the E. Interestingly enough, no one knew. Now we all know.

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