"I am going to milk the cows, shear the sheep, and (get the eggs from) the hens."

Is there a simple verb for gathering eggs from hens? If not, what's the most elegant way to say this?

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    You used two very fine candidates yourself: get and gather. There is no single word for gathering eggs from the hen house, just like there is no single word for gathering mushrooms in a cave or picking blackberries in the woods. Oct 4, 2014 at 19:11
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    @Janus 'there is no single word for gathering mushrooms in a cave or picking blackberries in the woods': you do realise you've probably opened the floodgates? Oct 4, 2014 at 19:58
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Although you can go berrying, that isn’t specific to blackberry-bearing bosques; egging is more about delivering eggs than about fetching them; and I believe shrooming may be something else altogether. :) Oops, maybe I’m wrong: the OED for verb egg includes both a transitive “To pelt with (rotten) eggs” sense and an intransitive “To collect (wild fowls’) eggs” sense.
    – tchrist
    Oct 4, 2014 at 20:00
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Lots of people go blackberrying every September in England, but not after Michaelmas Day (29th September), when the devil is said to spit on them.
    – WS2
    Oct 4, 2014 at 20:52
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    Eggstract, of course.
    – ermanen
    Oct 5, 2014 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


There are several verbs one can use figuratively:
shake down, with “To get money from someone using threats” and “To search exhaustively” among others; so Now I’m going to go shake down the chickens would imply going to gather eggs.
burgle or burglarize, “To commit burglary”. Eg, Now I’m going to go burglarize the chickens would imply taking eggs from chickens.
• Also consider verbs plunder (“To take (goods) by pillage”), poach (“to take anything illegally or unfairly”), and dispossess (“To deprive someone of the possession of land” etc)
rob, suggested in bishop's comment, looks like an excellent choice. Senses shown in wiktionary include phrases like “To steal from”, “To deprive of”, “To burgle”, and “To take possession of”. Eg, Now I’m going to rob the chickens or Now I’m going to rob the chickens of their eggs.

  • +1 Fun answer. I'm sure the hens do feel that they're bring burgled. If looks could kill, I'd be dead. Luckily for me, beaks do not. Excuse me, time to shake down the chickens. Oct 5, 2014 at 0:28
  • A win for answering the question in its context - or at least giving it a good go. I want to tell people I'm going to ___ the chickens. I think "plunder the chickens" is fun, burgle is hilarious, and poach almost sounds right entirely.
    – Xodarap777
    Oct 5, 2014 at 2:42
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    I have both bees and chickens on my farm. We rob bees, so I might as well rob the chickens, too!
    – bishop
    Oct 5, 2014 at 3:58
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    Unfortunately poaching eggs is something you do in a kitchen, not a henhouse. Oct 5, 2014 at 10:57
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    These suggestions are fun, playful, fanciful ways of describing the action. None of them are common or ordinary words for it. In the right context, using these could be fun; but when context isn’t clear, many of these might be difficult for listeners/readers to understand.
    – PLL
    Oct 5, 2014 at 19:26

No, there is not, since one does not extract eggs from a hen, as one does milk from a cow, nor is any specific work (usually described with a verb) involved, such as shearing the sheep, gutting a deer (also known as field dressing), or helping to kid a goat.

The verbs associated with eggs are gather and collect. You can squeeze the chicken, but it won't help.

  • 2
    Not even unscramble? Oct 4, 2014 at 19:59
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    Apparently birding, berrying, and egging are things done in the wild, not in captivity.
    – tchrist
    Oct 4, 2014 at 20:06
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    @tchrist - Cool! But in the US at least, egging is often used to mean throwing eggs at. One should not egg a chicken. Oct 4, 2014 at 22:09
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    You cannot gather an egg without breaking some omelettes. (Or something like that.)
    – Drew
    Oct 4, 2014 at 22:16
  • 3
    What? not deovulate?
    – bib
    Oct 4, 2014 at 23:23

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