I was reading a novel when I happened to stumble upon a expression that a character had said: "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs."

I thought real hard about but I can't seem to understand why you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

  • You would have difficulty making an omelet with unbroken eggs (i.e., still in their shells). – Colin Fine May 3 '17 at 23:55
  • You have to break the eggs to get them in the pan. It's an expression that means to do something hard, you may have to do some unpleasant things. dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/… – RaceYouAnytime May 3 '17 at 23:55
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    This question would be better suited to the English language learner's exchange (ell.stackexchange.com) – Ash May 4 '17 at 1:33
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    The way you phrased your question, leads me to believe you don't understand what the sentence means literally. – Centaurus May 4 '17 at 1:39
  • Did you look up the meaning of "omelet"? – Hot Licks May 4 '17 at 2:32

In a literal sense, making an omelette requires breaking the shell of an egg in order to extract the insides. The phrase is a metaphor which means that in order to achieve a desired objective, some damage will be done in the process (usually in the sense that someone will end up getting hurt). When people use the phrase, they are trying to rationalize the undesirable side-effects of pursuing their goal.

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