Good Egg – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a slightly quaint, archaic, way to tell someone that they’re a nice person, someone who can be relied on? You could call them a “good egg”. Learn more about this phrase, its meaning, and its origin in this post.


The phrase “good egg” emerged in nineteenth century Britain. It is an informal, cordial, way to say that someone is a decent person and someone you like.

Conversely, calling someone a “bad egg” means that that person is trouble and shouldn’t be trusted.

Example Usage

Do you have no idea how you would include the phrase “good egg” in a conversation? These examples will help better understand how you can use the phrase in your everyday language:

  • “John is a little rowdy at times, and he gets up to no good on occasion, but he’s a good egg when it boils down to it.”
  • “Oh, the new neighbor? I wasn’t sure about him when he moved in, but now I’ve got to know him a bit better I can say that he’s a good egg. He even fixed my sink one time.”
  • “When my grandma met my new boyfriend, she called him a good egg. What does that even mean? I guess she liked him, anyway.”


Chicken eggs have long been a staple in Western cuisine, but anyone who has ever mistakenly cracked a rotten egg knows that eggs can be tricky. There is no way to tell whether an uncracked egg is good (fresh; edible) or bad (rotten) just by looking at it.

Before modern health and safety regulations came into place, it wasn’t uncommon for people to crack eggs only to find out that they had gone off.

The metaphor is immediately apparent — with people, too, it is hard to tell what they are like “on the inside” just by looking. A related phrase would be that you “can’t judge a book by its cover”.

The phrase “bad egg” first emerged in the 1800s, when British upper-class schoolboys used it to describe rotten people. The term “good egg” appears to have emerged only after the phrase “bad egg” was coined, and it has the opposite meaning.

A “good egg” is someone who has proven themselves to be trustworthy and decent — a nice person. When you call someone a good egg, you are using a slightly dated but warm and affectionate phrase to show that you like the person.

While the phrase “good egg” first arose in the UK, it is also used in the United States. Recent Urban Dictionary entries on the topic show that the phrase remains in use among younger generations.

Phrases Similar to Good Egg

If you don’t want to call someone a good egg, you could also say that they are:

  • A good guy
  • A decent fellow
  • A nice person

Phrases Opposite to Good Egg

The direct opposite of a good egg is a bad egg — meaning a rotten fellow, a nasty person, or a troublemaker.

What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying is “good egg”. A good egg is a nice, decent, reliable, and trustworthy person.

Ways People May Say Good Egg Incorrectly

Once you understand the meaning of the phrase “good egg”, it is very hard to use it incorrectly. However, before you include the phrase “good egg” in your everyday language, you should be aware that it has become slightly dated.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Good Egg

You can use the phrase “good egg” to describe someone you know to be a kind, nice, decent, or trustworthy person — a solid guy or gal with a good soul. When you call someone a good egg, you show that you have a high opinion of that person.

This phrase is casual, but not offensive, and is still common enough that most people will understand what you are talking about.

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