Nest Egg (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Nest Egg"?

The term "nest egg" means savings set aside for future use.

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Nest Egg (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • The stock market crash has smashed the nest egg for my retirement.
  • I always put away a few pennies each month to build my nest egg.
  • I am dipping into my retirement nest egg to pay for a trip to Australia.
  • The cost of living is preventing me from building my nest egg.
This idiom refers to the age-old practice of placing a real or fake egg into hens' nests to encourage them to lay. These decoys, which have been used since at least the 14th century, were also called nest eggs.

The link between decoy nest eggs and the figurative meaning of "future savings" is unclear, but it could be that the extra eggs brought on by a nest egg is analogous with the interest earned on invested capital.

From a grammatical perspective, the word "nest egg" is a compound noun (a noun made up of more than one word). For this reason, it is sometimes hyphenated ("nest-egg") to show it is one grammatical entity. The one-word version ("nestegg") is currently a spelling mistake.

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