Would You Like That Egg Dropped?

By The Editors / January / February 2003
June 22nd, 2007
Seventy-three New Englanders out of 100 say “dropped eggs,” and only twenty-seven out of 100 say “poached eggs,” when asked what they call eggs taken whole from the shell, put into boiling water, and usually served on toast.

The New England preference for “dropped eggs,” an expression used nowhere else in the United States, has been established by the Linguistic Atlas of the United States and Canada, a research project for studying dialectical variations in American English. Results of the survey are described by Herbert Penzl of Brown University, where the Atlas has its headquarters, in an article appearing in the current issue of American Speech.

Some people have never heard of either “dropped eggs” or “poached eggs,” the survey has revealed. One informant in Connecticut said he thought they were “mostly for sick people.” Another man in Rhode Island said, “I don’t go in for them fancy dishes.” A few people in scattered sections of New England referred to “dropped eggs” or “poached eggs” as “eggs on toast” and “scalded eggs.” The cafeteria expression, “Adam and Eve on a raft,” was also duly noted.

The survey of the use of “dropped eggs” and “poached eggs” is part of the Atlas’s intensive study of linguistic differences in all sections of New England, which is being carried out under the direction of Dr. Hans Kurath, professor of Germanic languages and general linguistics at Brown University, and Prof. Miles L. Hanley of Harvard University.

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January / February 2003