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According to M. Navratilova

"The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed."

Alas, I was not able to understand the above quote, then I consulted the ODE, which says:

Involvement: The fact or condition of being involved with or participating in something.

Commitment: The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.

But, after reading those definitions, I still don't understand.

So, what do they mean 'chicken is involved' and 'pig is committed'?

picture of M. Navratilova on tennis court

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This is a non-standard definition of "commitment", using a bad metaphor (both animals participate, but neither does so voluntarily, and the only real difference is that the chicken survives). You should not use it as a guide to English. –  Beta Aug 2 at 23:32

2 Answers 2

The metaphor here is that since the chicken gives up its eggs to make ham and eggs, it is not sacrificing itself for the meal, but still contributes to the meal and so is involved. By contrast, the pig must sacrifice its flesh (the ham) and hence must be committed to producing the meal.

The point of the metaphor, as I take it, is to emphasize the different levels of emphasis implied by saying you're "involved" in something as opposed to "committed" to it. Presumably sacrificing your own flesh would take much more than simple involvement!

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+1 - it should also be noted explicitly that this is a bit of a joke. Calling the pig committed is a understatement. –  Telastyn Aug 2 at 20:53
... Yes, this is another example of choosing particular non-overlapping senses for the words concerned, when they are (in this case just about) synonyms: involved 5. a. Emotionally committed: He joined their organization but never really got involved. [AHD] –  Edwin Ashworth Aug 2 at 22:48

The fable of The Chicken and The Pig is generally used to refer to the commitment to a project or cause.

  • The fable was referenced to define two types of project members by the scrum agile management system: pigs, who are totally committed to the project and accountable for its outcome, and chickens, who consult on the project and are informed of its progress.

  • *This analogy is based upon the pig being able to provide bacon (a sacrificial offering, for which the pig must die in order to provide) versus a chicken which provides eggs (non-sacrificial).

The following quote have been attributed to football coach Mike Leach:

On the officials in the 2007 Tech-Texas game in Austin:

  • "It's a little like breakfast; you eat ham and eggs. As coaches and players, we're like the ham. You see, the chicken's involved but the pig's committed. We're like the pig, they're like the chicken. They're involved, but everything we have rides on this."


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