• wind-egg •
win-deg • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. An imperfect egg, a cock-egg: one with a soft shell, missing yolk, addled, or much smaller than normal. 2. Anything empty, useless, worthless, or fake.
Notes: We also have fairy-eggs, eggs much smaller than other eggs laid by the same hen. This compound noun has been seldom used in the general vocabulary since the 19th century. Time to reinvigorate it.
In Play: In the literal sense, we could say: "I found two wind-eggs among the dozen I bought yesterday at the market." In the figurative sense, I would love to hear things like this: "Randy Gauntlet loves to talk about his exciting military exploits, but most of his stories are simply wind-eggs."
Word History: The best guess as to how imperfect eggs came to be called "wind-eggs" is that they were originally called 'fart-eggs'. Since 'passing wind' is associated with farting, wind-egg was a euphemism for the original expression. Wind has cousins in all Germanic languages: German Wind, Dutch wind, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish vind, and Icelandic vindur. We also see the remains of it in Latin ventus "wind", most of which English borrowed as vent. Russian has a non-nasalized version in their veter "wind"; the same with Lithuanian vėjas "wind". Egg was borrowed from Old Norse (Viking), which descended from PIE owyo-/oyyo "egg", source also of German Ei, Welsh wy, Latin ovum, whence ovary, Greek oon, and Russian yaitso, all meaning "egg". Modern words for "egg" in Scandinavian languages are Danish æg, Norwegian and Icelandic egg, and Swedish agg. The original Old English word for "egg" was ei, like Modern German Ei and Dutch ei.
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