This feels like it should have a simple answer, but my googling has turned up nothing.

I am classifying ingredients by their type.

Consider the following:

Flour is a powder (eg: 20g flour)
Milk is a liquid  (eg: 0.5l milk)
Egg is a ...?     (eg: 1 egg)

What is an egg?

The best I've got is that it is a 'discrete item', but I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe it. Is there a better word (or phrase, if there isn't any word at all) for this?

This is my first question on this site, so I do apologise if it's not right for the site or if I've done something wrong.


The purpose of the classification is to determine the valid possible measurement types for an ingredient item. ie a valid measurement type for Milk could be fluid-ounces or tablespoons. Flour could be ounces, grams or tablespoons.

  • "Discrete item" is a fine description.
    – GEdgar
    May 6, 2017 at 18:44
  • The answer depends on the purpose of such classification - of which we know nothing. May 6, 2017 at 18:58
  • @michael.hor257k I have updated the question with the purpose of such classification. I didn't add it before because I was not sure if such information was relevant or not. May 6, 2017 at 19:07
  • 1
    So eggs get classified with cloves of garlic. May 6, 2017 at 19:20
  • Eggs are measured in pieces, e.g. "flour (20g), milk (0.5ml), eggs (2 pcs.), etc.". May 6, 2017 at 20:41

3 Answers 3


What's appropriate depends very much on why it is that you want to determine the valid possible measurement types.

For example if you're designing a user interface for software it would likely be sufficient to categorize it under "Other", e.g.:

  • Liquids: fl oz, gal, cup
  • Powders/Grains: oz, g, lb, cup
  • Other: pieces, items, leaves

You could also, in an organization like that, just have a selection for "count" or "no special units" or something to signify that an additional explicit unit is not required, and that the unit is implied by the ingredient itself:

  • Flour: 20 g
  • Milk: 0.5 l
  • Eggs: 1

Because in that context you're never trying to construct the actual sentence, "an eggs is a _____".

If you're loooking for a description and you don't care how verbose it is, there are plenty of descriptive phrases:

  • An egg is a countable item.
  • An egg is a distinct object.
  • Etc.

But those may be too awkward and clunky for your purposes. There are also things like "an egg is discrete", which I suppose works, although it is not a noun, but of course would look very odd and out of place in the context of a recipe. You'd never see terminology like that used in, say, a cookbook. You could also say "an egg is an object" which works but, of course, is too vague.

If you say "an egg is countable", that probably will have the highest success rate of being understood while being the least awkward possible. If you must stick precisely to your example forms, "an egg is a countable item [or object, or ingredient]" works. Still slightly awkward but probably the least of all the evils.

I would sit back and think what your end goal is, then you'll be able to make the most appropriate choice. In particular if you're doing some sort of user-interface thing, a slight reorganization (e.g. categorized units above) might make this word choice unnecessary.


Egg is a unit. You number them. Example : "A dozen eggs."

  • But eggs come in different sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large. and from different fowls. So... is just saying "two eggs" enough?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 6, 2017 at 20:27
  • 1
    If you're talking about sizes too, then the mass of all the eggs together come into consideration, which applies to every possible object (flour, milk, etc..) But according to what the OP asked, I don't think any such "unit of measurement) applies here. Egg is just a countable entity, whereas milk, flour, etc isn't.
    – Amp
    May 6, 2017 at 20:54
  • @Mari-LouA Yes, just saying "two eggs" is usually enough, at least in the US, egg sizes are standardized, so recipes where it really matters (like baking) will generally always specify a size, whereas any recipe that just says "two eggs" traditionally (but not always) refers to large eggs but often doesn't critically depend on the egg size, so most of the time when you see "two eggs", you assume large eggs, but it's usually sufficient (medium or large will generally get you satisfactory results when no size is specified, I wouldn't use small or jumbo arbitrarily).
    – Jason C
    May 6, 2017 at 21:38
  • @JasonC Just playing the devil's advocate. A goose, duck egg, or quail's egg are not alike. But normally, I know, we're thinking of hen eggs.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 6, 2017 at 21:43
  • 2
    Most recipes are based on grade AA large eggs. I think commercial recipes measure eggs by weight (without the shell) or by liquid volume.
    – Jim
    May 6, 2017 at 21:49

Cooking is one of those subjects where we routinely call substances by the objects they came from.

Since you can:

  • mix 4 eggs together in a bowl and still call it "4 eggs"

  • make a 4-egg omelet (but you would be hard pressed to finish it)

We can say that, in cooking, 1 egg is an approximate volumetric measure.

It's not a precise unit, since eggs vary in size. You might see the recipe call for a specific size of egg .

This is similar to "1 chicken breast", a pinch of salt or collecting several small pieces of bay leaf from the bottom of a jar to make up "1 bay leaf".

Of course, unlike other approximate units, you can't have an "egg of salt"; you can only have 1 egg of....egg.

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