Thursday, January 12, 2012
Cultural Literacy Requirement: The Curate's Egg
Curate: "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!"
This cartoon, by George du Maurier, from Punch November 9, 1895 provides such a useful metaphor for the phenomenon it describes that people still use the term that it inspired 116 years after its publication. The concept is similar to "damning with faint praise" except that the praise is not faint but is instead enthusiastic but excessively specific and often insincere.
Calling something a "curate's egg" (or a "parson's egg") is generally to be critical of it while, at the same time, suggesting that other, more positive descriptions were references to aspects deliberately selected in a polite effort to "say something nice."