In Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Who’s that candidate in the teal toenail Polish?” in New York Times (August 3), http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/opinion/sunday/dowd-whos-that-candidate-in-the-teal-toenail-polish.html?hp she quotes the following comment of New York City mayoral candidate, Christine Callaghan Quinn:

“Quinn is still smarting over a Times story that described her volatile “hair-trigger eruptions. “Am I pushy?” she asked. “Yep. Do I like taking no for an answer when no means New Yorkers aren’t going to get something they need? No. Do I push back and crack some eggs? Absolutely.”

She also defended herself for calling the police and fire commissioners in July when an ambulance did not arrive in a timely way, after a City Council intern fainted in the heat.”

Though I understand this is a metaphoric expression, I’m not clear with the meaning of “Do I push back and crack some eggs? Absolutely.”

It sounds like she is saying that she is adamant to say ‘No,’ whenever she doesn’t think the proposed policy and measures benefit New Yorkers, without worrying about conflict or confrontation, but I’m not sure.

What does it exactly mean? Is “push back and crack some eggs” a popular turn of phrase, or Christine Quinn’s (not Dowd’s, as is usual) own turn of phrase?

  • It is a mashup of two common idioms; seems like Dowd has noticed someone else with similar style/habits. / For the first, 'when she encounters resistance' or (in a more physical, 'playground-ish' metaphor) 'when someone pushes her', she 'pushes back'. This defn of 'pushing' is widely used, and takes several forms. / For the second half, I agree with JLG (re. omelette); this is a common metaphor, and it is sometimes altered/referenced ("to make an omelette, you need to ___"), but I would call this version a bit of a stretch.
    – hunter2
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 6:32

2 Answers 2


The candidate for Mayor of New York in question is not afraid to assert herself. In fact in the article she is described as:

“a big pushy broad,” as she puts it, who pushes for New York.

Someone who pushes her ideas forward and is prepared to defend her proposals, even if it means upsetting and antagonising her opponents or a section of the public opinion, i.e. to crack eggs.

That last expression reminds me of an idiom "walking on egg shells" It's definition is as follows: Fig. to be very diplomatic and inoffensive. I was walking on eggshells trying to explain the remark to her without offending her further.

Thus when she claims she is unafraid of cracking eggs, she is saying the exact opposite of the well-known recognized idiom.

  • 9
    I don't believe this comes from the "walking on eggshells" idiom, but rather from this "you've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelet" idiom. It means "In order to achieve something, it is inevitable and necessary that something be destroyed." The candidate is saying she is willing to do what it takes to achieve what she thinks New Yorkers need her to achieve.
    – JLG
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 13:56
  • 1
    @JLG I never said it did, rather that it reminded me of it. In fact, I said its meaning (crack eggs) was the exact opposite to walking on eggshells.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 14:42

“Pushes back and crack some eggs” is not a popular turn of phrase. But it is a "take-off" on one.

The original phrase was "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." Quinn is saying, if someone pushes her around, she will “push back and crack some eggs." Thereby making "omelets."

It's a way of arguing that she's tough enough to be mayor.

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