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What Does It Mean to Put "All Your Eggs in One Basket"?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
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When it comes to metaphorical egg transportation, it is indeed advisable not to put all your eggs in one basket. For one thing, you may only have a finite amount of "eggs" to lose, and that "basket" may not be the sturdiest or most stable in the wagon. The expression "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" generally means not to risk losing everything by pinning all of your hopes or future goals on one and only one option.

The danger of keeping your eggs together should be obvious once the basket falls off the wagon or experiences some other unfortunate fate. Wherever the basket goes, the eggs must surely follow. In a metaphorical sense, investing all of one's time, energy, attention or money in a single endeavor can be a similar recipe for personal disappointment or even tragedy.

While a personal investment in a future goal is a laudable idea, few people can afford to take such a risk without some sort of safety net or fall back plan. College students who dedicate themselves to following a creative arts major, for example, are often encouraged to select a more secure minor in case they are not immediately successful in the professional world. Pinning all of your hopes on an extremely competitive career path would be the equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket.

Another interpretation of this expression is often seen in the world of investing. Potential investors are encouraged to diversify their investments rather than put all of their money into a single, and possibly volatile, investment option. It is never advisable to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to financial markets. Investors should have some money put aside in more stable funds in order to survive any sudden downturns in more volatile markets.

There are several stories concerning the origin of the expression, but it may have been inspired by the real life experiences of poultry farmers who used wagons and baskets to take their eggs to market. If all of a farmer's eggs were placed in one basket, it would only take one unfortunate accident along the way to ruin his entire investment. By not putting your eggs all in one basket, you reduce the risk of having nothing to offer at the market.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to Language & Humanities, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon295954 — On Oct 09, 2012

"Putting all your eggs in one basket" would also resemble what we are actually made to do when we are at the eleventh hour of choosing our career. The friends and relatives usually pour out lots of ideas, which usually confuses the one who tries to choose a perfect career. Finally, we land up in something that we never thought to land at.

So, I think it's better to break other eggs in the basket, leaving safe the only egg that we need.

By anon260918 — On Apr 13, 2012

I always use a different rule: put all your eggs in one basket and watch it really good.

By Moldova — On Feb 15, 2011

Sunny27 - You know the same could be said when buying a property. I was looking for a beachfront condo and saw a short sale that caught my eye.

However, after putting in an offer the whole process took three months and the bank rejected my offer.

If I would not have tied myself to that property for those three months, I could have seen many foreclosures that did not have this problem.

This is why I will never look at a short sale again. There are too many other properties on the market that are excellent values and I don’t have to tie myself up for such a long time waiting.

This is another reason why you do not put all your eggs in one basket.

By Sunny27 — On Feb 13, 2011

Subway11 - I have to say that the idea that a bank could fail is a little scary. I wanted to add that it is always important to never put all your eggs in one basket because if something happens to your only egg then you will be in trouble.

This is also great advice for someone starting a job search. It is always a good idea to apply for many jobs and not rely on a single job offer or company until you have had an opportunity to see what is out there.

You might find that by not putting all your eggs in one basket you might be able to find a better opportunity somewhere else that you have never thought of.

By subway11 — On Feb 12, 2011

Sunshine31 - I felt so bad for those people. I think that the advice of don’t put your eggs in one basket also rings true in the real estate market.

During the peak of the real estate market people were buying multiple homes in order to take advantage of the high short term appreciation levels.

Most people bought these homes to flip them for a fast profit. Some were able to do that for a while but when the real estate market crashed many of these people found themselves with multiple foreclosures because they could not sell their homes.

What made matters worse is that banks at the time had very loose standards regarding mortgage lending and mortgage fraud ran rampant. There were many no documentation loans that essentially allowed borrowers to simply state what their income was without having to prove it.

This is how a person with a $40,000 salary was able to qualify for a half a million dollar house. The banks also put all of their eggs in the mortgage basket and now they are still dealing with the results of poor business decisions.

Both borrowers and lenders that put all of their eggs in one basket so to speak and lost most of their money in the real estate market.

This caused many banks to close their doors and allowed the larger banks to receive stimulus money in order to stablize the banking sector.

By sunshine31 — On Feb 10, 2011

WaterHopper - That is smart advice for someone in high school, but as you get a little older you really have to settle down and find the right basket.

I wanted to say that when I think about the advice of not putting all my eggs in one basket it tends to remind me of financial investments.

A really big mistake that a lot of people make with respect to their finances is that they put most of their holdings in one area and do not diversify their portfolio.

If there is a downturn in that sector then a person’s portfolio could be wiped out. For example, people that invested in Enron were usually the employees who had the majority of their retirement portfolio in the stock.

Since they were offered stock discounts and received encouraging news from the executives of the company regarding the financial health of the company many of the employees put most of their investments in the company stock.

If there is ever a lesson that states, “Never put all your eggs in one basket” it is this one. The company went bankrupt and the stock fell to pennies on the dollar. People lost their life savings because they put all of their eggs in one basket. It is really a sad case.

By WaterHopper — On Oct 08, 2010

I used to tell my best friend in high school, regarding dating, not to put all of her eggs in one basket. She didn't know what I meant then. But I was trying to tell her to look at the other baskets (guys) that are out there before you choose just one dang basket.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to Language & Humanities, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
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