Phrase origin: ‘Teaching your grandma to suck eggs’

Teaching your grandma to suck eggs – to explain something to someone who already has experience of it.

The phrase seems very odd by today’s standards because no-one sucks eggs these days, but believe it or not, it was once commonplace to eat eggs by making a hole at each end and sucking out the contents, it was a convenient way to eat them with no mess, that was before we learned about salmonella and the custom fell quickly out of use.

The earliest known written reference of the phrase is from 1736, in the Dictionarium Britannicum, by Nathan Bailey, George Gordon, Philip Miller, Thomas Lediard:

‘Teach your Grannum (Grandame) to suck Eggs (A Reproof to those, who think they have more Knowledge than the whole World, and will be ever and anon teaching those who have had more Experience than themselves.’


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