I am learning Chinese with Rosetta Stone software and it is based on guessing the sense of words by pictures.

And I can't guess the difference between various types of "eggs".

When I see normal, probably hen's egg, they write


but when I see some other types of eggs, they can write


In these cases eggs are probably from different birds, not hens.

So what is the difference? Only bird genus or something else?

  • 1
    bkrs: 鸡蛋(hen's) egg: 炒鸡蛋 scrambed eggs 煎鸡蛋 fried eggs 煮鸡蛋 hard-boiled eggs 鸟蛋 bird's eggs e.g. 掏鸟蛋 take bird’s eggs out of a nest, thus it appears 蛋 is a bound morpheme
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 10:04
  • 1
    re: "Only bird genus", crocodile egg 鳄鱼蛋, 卵 ovum; egg; spawn;e.g. turtle egg, 鳖卵, toad egg 蟾蜍的卵,fish roe 鱼卵, spider egg 蜘蛛卵
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 10:32
  • re: toad: 俗称 癞蛤蟆
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 11:07
  • 1
    biological term for egg is 卵, in the case of birds/鸟类 and reptiles 爬行动物(或称爬行类、爬虫类)it is called 蛋 with respectively hard (and brittle/脆) or rubbery shells “硬壳”/“革壳”(this suggests turtle egg in comment #2 should be 鳖蛋 (s.e.g. baike on 甲鱼(soft-shelled turtle)蛋)
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 18:55
  • The character 蛋 in Chinese like egg in English, which refers to all types of eggs in broad sense, or refers hen's eggs in narrow sense. Generally, we generally say 蛋 or egg for hen's egg, but we can also say hen's eggs, duck's egg, bird's egg.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 11:14

2 Answers 2


鸡蛋 is a specific term. 鸟蛋 is a general term.

When we know what kind of bird it is, we use a specific term. Otherwise, we use a general term.

For example, we call the eggs of 鸭 (duck), 鸽子 (dove), or 鹌鹑 (quail) as 鸭蛋, 鸽子蛋, or 鹌鹑蛋.


Chicken egg is 鸡蛋 and Bird egg is 鸟蛋.

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