lay an egg, to

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lay an egg

1. To bear an egg, as of animals such as birds. Did the hen lay an egg today?
2. To do something very poorly. We really laid an egg last night and lost the game 7-0.
See also: egg, lay
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

lay an egg

 
1. Lit. [for a hen, etc.] to deposit an egg. Old Red stopped laying eggs, so we stewed her for Sunday dinner.
2. Fig. [for someone] to do something bad or poorly; to perform poorly on stage. I guess I really laid an egg, huh? The cast laid an egg in both performances.
See also: egg, lay
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

lay an egg

Fail, especially in a public performance; make a humiliating error. For example, Carol really laid an egg last night when she forgot her lines, or, as Variety had it in October 1929: "Wall Street Lays An Egg." The term originated in the late 1800s in vaudeville and was extended to nontheatrical failures in the early 1900s.
See also: egg, lay
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

lay an egg

AMERICAN, INFORMAL
If something lays an egg, it fails because people are not interested in it or do not want it. Independent studies showed the ad laid an egg. Long before they had finished making it, Stamp knew that the movie would lay an egg. Note: This expression is probably derived from the idea of an egg being round and therefore resembling a zero. A `duck' (duck's egg) is a score of zero in British sport, and the equivalent in American sport is a `goose egg'.
See also: egg, lay
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

lay an egg

be completely unsuccessful; fail badly. North American informal
See also: egg, lay
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

lay an ˈegg

(informal, especially American English) fail or make a mistake: He laid an egg with these proposals with the very people he wanted most to convince.Columnists sometimes lay an egg, but Martin has laid an ostrich omelette.
See also: egg, lay
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

lay an egg

1. tv. [for someone] to do something bad or poorly. I guess I really laid an egg, huh?
2. tv. [for something] to fail. The community theater laid an egg last night with the opening performance of Death of a Salesman. The film was fun to make, but it laid an egg at the box office.
3. tv. to laugh very hard; to cackle long and loudly. (As if one were a chicken.) Half the audience laid an egg when I told this one.
See also: egg, lay
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

lay an egg

Informal
To fail, especially in a public performance.
See also: egg, lay
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

lay an egg, to

To fail, to make an embarrassing mistake. In Britain this term comes from cricket, where a player or team failing to score has, since the mid-nineteenth century, been said to get a duck’s egg (meaning 0, or zero). In America the term appeared in the latter part of the nineteenth century in vaudeville and theater, similarly signifying a flop of a performance. It was transferred to other arenas by the early twentieth century, and fittingly, a headline in Variety (the American chronicle of show business at the time) read, in October 1929, “Wall Street Lays An Egg.”
See also: lay
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
The second of Chanticleer's two wives, ever since Phoebe's arrival, had been in a state of heavy despondency, caused, as it afterwards appeared, by her inability to lay an egg. One day, however, by her self-important gait, the sideways turn of her head, and the cock of her eye, as she pried into one and another nook of the garden,--croaking to herself, all the while, with inexpressible complacency,--it was made evident that this identical hen, much as mankind undervalued her, carried something about her person the worth of which was not to be estimated either in gold or precious stones.
In 1993, Elmes and his Winfrith colleague Jeremy Thomas hypothesized that the wasp incites ant fights as a distraction on two occasions: when the youngster departs from the ant nest and again when a mother enters a nest to lay an egg.
That slaughter makes the b allele more likely to continue into the next generation; any queen who lives long enough to lay an egg must carry at least one copy.
"The nest was bouncing." The struggle lasted 110 seconds before the cowbird flew away Sealy later confirmed that the cowbird had managed to lay an egg during the fracas.