An “egg” on Twitter is someone who hasn’t yet changed their avatar to something other than the provided default: an unhatched egg, against a brightly colored background. Not all “eggs” are bad eggs. But to point out that someone is an “egg” on Twitter is an insult, an essential part of the social networking site’s local dialect.

Calling someone an “egg,” in the context of Twitter, is to call that person a troll or to deem his or her comments unworthy of serious consideration. This is a pretty hard-and-fast rule among Twitter’s power users, even though “eggs” can also simply be people who joined Twitter but don’t care enough about using it to personalize their profile.

But the association between “egg” and insult isn’t unique to Twitter. Obviously, there’s the English idiom of a “bad egg” and the term “egghead,” an insulting way to refer to a brainy person.

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One Twitter user pointed out an even more famous usage recently:

The line comes from a pretty gruesome scene in “Macbeth,” in Act 4: The “egg” is MacDuff’s young son, and his attacker is basically saying that the boy is so youthful that he has not yet “hatched.” He’s a runt. It’s one of Shakespeare’s more famous insults. Yes, the boy dies on stage, though not every production these days shows it.

“Egg” is also an insult in a couple of other places around the world. We asked The Intersect’s chief New Zealand Twitter source, Craig Hickman, a.k.a. DairyMan, to explain. An “egg” is “synonymous with [jerk],” he said, using a word The Washington Post generally refrains from using in ways other than as a nickname for “Richard.” For example, a New Zealander might say, “Don’t be such an egg, bro!”

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The “egg” insult features prominently in the New Zealand film “Boy,” to the point that it is incorporated into the movie’s trailer:

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Germany also uses “egg” as an insult. A “Weichei,” or a soft egg, is essentially a wimp. It’s generally used in reference to men.

These examples, taken together, seem to suggest that an “egg,” in varying contexts, is used as an insult to signify immaturity and fragility — something that holds true for Twitter’s version of this insult. We’re sure there are other examples of egg-based insults, and we look forward to reading them in the comments.

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