The Real Meaning of the Phrase ‘Curate’s Egg’

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle examines the origins of an oft-misused phrase

‘Good in parts.’ ‘A mixed bag.’ This is what people generally mean when they use the phrase ‘curate’s egg’ to describe something. For instance, in book reviews: ‘A real curate’s egg, this. Parts of it are really good, such as the plot and pacing. However, the characterisation leaves a lot to be desired.’

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