If you've ever heard the expression, 'You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs,' you might have wondered what it means. And if that's the case, you're in the right place. In this article, you'll learn what this famous idiom means, where it comes from, and how to use it.
If you're just here for the short version, here it is:
Just like all idioms, this can't be interpreted literally, so of course, we aren't talking about actual eggs and omelettes here, but about a figurative meaning. The idiom "you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" conveys the idea that in order to achieve something significant or make progress, you may have to endure some difficulties or make sacrifices along the way.
Imagine, for example, that you really want to get healthy but have a bit of an addiction to sugary foods. Your friend might say to you:
You'll have to cut back on the amount of cakes and pastries that you eat if you want to lose some weight. I know that's going to be difficult but you can't make an omelete without breaking eggs.
Some alternative ways to say it are:
The origin of this idiom is not precisely documented, but it has been attributed to various sources over time. It is often associated with French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte. However, there is no concrete evidence to support that Napoleon himself coined the phrase.
What we do know is that it came from French, and the original version goes like this:
On ne saurait faire d'omelette sans casser des oeufs.
Most clues seem to point to François de Charette as the author. Indeed, in a 1796 issue of Walker's Hibernian Magazine, Walker recounts how Charette was questioned upon his arrest about the men who had died due to his actions. To this, he responded:
Yes. Omelettes are not made without breaking eggs.
This response shows he did not value the lives of those men, and in his mind, their lives were worth the benefits received as a result of their sacrifice.
Now we've covered the idiom's meaning, and its possible origins, here are some examples of it being used in a sentence.
Starting a business can be risky, but you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, so take that chance and pursue that career you've always dreamed of.
To achieve success in scientific research, sometimes you need to challenge established theories; after all, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
When aiming for career success, take calculated risks and step out of your comfort zone, as you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, and your potential for personal and professional growth can soar to new heights.
In order to renovate our old house and make it more modern, we had to deal with a lot of construction mess, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
Pushing for social change requires activists to disrupt the status quo because, as they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
The manager knew that implementing new organization policies might upset some employees, but he believed that you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs in the process of improvement.
Nations often have to unite and take strong actions, understanding that you can't defeat the ideology of fascism without breaking a few eggs in the process of preserving democracy and freedom.
When trying to solve complex problems, it's essential to question assumptions, even if it creates discomfort because you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs intellectually.
In the process of developing their innovative business model, the startup had to make some daring decisions that disrupted the industry's norms, because, as they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs in the world of entrepreneurship.
The process of innovation in technology often involves trial and error, as you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs to develop new and better products.
Of course, just like with most idioms, there's always more than just one way to say something. Here are some other ways to express that something is part of the past and you've moved on:
Well, that pretty much concludes this article on the popular idiom. So basically, if you want to talk about the fact that sometimes great gain can require great sacrifice, you can say, 'You can't make an omelette without cracking eggs.'
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