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What is the etymology on "egging on"?

e.g. It was Jack who did it. But Jane was really egging him on.

Does it actually relate to eggs, or is it simply derived from "urging on"?

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etymonline.com/index.php?term=egg –  JeffSahol May 1 '12 at 12:43
    
@JeffSahol Yes, I looked at that. It suggests the term has something to do with "edge", but I still don't see how it arose. –  Urbycoz May 1 '12 at 12:54

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The etymology of the verb egg (on) is the same as that of edge. It is of Old Norse origin, and once described in particular the sharp edge of a sword. Perhaps those who were egged on were once so encouraged by the threat of laceration.

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Or made to listen to U2 guitar riffs incessantly. –  JeffSahol May 1 '12 at 13:03
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This sense of 'edge'-ing on seems diametrically opposite to 'urge'-ing on as more commonly understood. –  Kris May 1 '12 at 13:23
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The NOAD lists as the etymology for egg(2), "ORIGIN Middle English : from Old Norse eggja 'incite.' " It also lists eggja as a related etymological word in the entry for edge. I'm not sure how those two are related, but your guess sounds good in the absence of others. –  zpletan May 1 '12 at 20:49
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The words in the etymology appear to have meant more along the lines of point than edge; perhaps they carried the idea of poking rather than laceration, and it is from this idea that we get egg. –  zpletan May 1 '12 at 20:52
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To egg on is proper old. Here's an example from 1594: ... should remayne whith more security then they can wel hope to do vnder any Inglish competitor, if he come to the crowne, who shalbe continually egged on by his owne kynred... –  Hugo May 3 '12 at 16:36

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