In this review of The Wheel of Time tv series, the reviewer, Lucy Mangan, writes:

There is also Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) – a Wisdom who, despite looking like a zygote, seems to be a protective village elder.

Googling on it, I don't get a lot of hits except for the literal explanation of what a zygote is. What does "looking like a zygote" mean in this context? Is it a common idiom?

  • 1
    No, it's not a common idiom. The review makes several attempts at humorous comments about the appearance of the cast members: most are not very funny, and I don't get this one at all. Maybe the reviewer had been smoking something illegal when she wrote this.
    – JavaLatte
    Nov 22, 2021 at 9:03
  • @JavaLatte - common enough. A random selection - Looking back on the film [Titanic] now, Leonardo DiCaprio is practically a zygote with his boyish good looks, and Winslet’s acting skills have clearly improved over time. Also - my jealousy in Zadie Smith for being published so young, practically a zygote. Nov 22, 2021 at 10:08

1 Answer 1


When a daddy and a mommy like each other very, very much... one of the mommy's ova and one of the daddy's sperms may fuse together to create a new being. This very first cell is called a zygote. The zygote then starts to divide, and over time a litte baby is created.

So, the zygote is the very first stage we've all been in - you may say, the youngest version of us possible. In the phrase you've quoted, the author probably wants to express that the character is looking really young. They do that by the means of hyperbole, by comparing her to the youngest possible stage in an individual's life.

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    The OP says that they know the literal meaning! Nov 22, 2021 at 9:10
  • @KateBunting And my answer explains how the author of the quote probably used the literal meaning to express that the character looks very, very young. Nov 22, 2021 at 9:11
  • "When a daddy and a mommy like each other very, very much" - is this an essential condition? Nov 22, 2021 at 10:14
  • @MichaelHarvey At least it should be, otherwise there's a chance they'll take it out on their offspring later. But I mostly wanted to quote one of the cliché phrases often used in this context. I thought about bringing the stork into play, but decided against it ;) Nov 22, 2021 at 11:01
  • Parents in the UK used to tell their children 'We found you under a gooseberry bush'. Nov 22, 2021 at 11:03

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