Egg On – To urge someone to do something that is usually negative.
Like the time my boy cousin–two years older than me–egged on eleven-year-old me to jump from my grandparents roof in Middleburg, South Africa. I did it. It hurt like hell, but I acted like it was no big deal, well, mostly. I gained a small measure of respect for that. For a while.
So where did this term come from? Turns out that ‘egg’ of ‘egg on’ is a straightforward variant of ‘edge’, so to ‘egg someone on’ is to edge, or urge, them forward. Egg and edge both have the look and feel of Viking words and this first impression turns out to be correct, as they both derive from the Old Norse ‘eddja’.
Egg has been used as a verb in English since around the 13th century and appears in print in the Trinity College Homer, in the form of ‘eggede’, circa 1200.
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