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  1. the shell of a bird's egg, consisting of keratin fibers and calcite crystals.
  2. a pale yellowish-white color.
  3. rather bulky paper having a slightly rough finish.
  1. like an eggshell, as in thinness and delicacy; very brittle; fragile.
  2. being pale yellowish-white in color.
  3. having little or no gloss: eggshell white paint.

Origin of eggshell

First recorded in 1250–1300, eggshell is from the Middle English word ayschelle. See egg1, shell
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for eggshell

Historical Examples

  • And Sandy felt as if every branch he grasped were an eggshell.

    The House in the Water

    Charles G. D. Roberts

  • It is inadequate to say that the skull was smashed to bits like an eggshell.

  • Our boat was but an eggshell, and we had few clothes to defend us from the weather.

  • Either trunk would have crushed the old camp like an eggshell!

    When Life Was Young

    C. A. Stephens

  • May they curl themselves into an eggshell and be your guests to-morrow.

British Dictionary definitions for eggshell


  1. the hard porous protective outer layer of a bird's egg, consisting of calcite and protein
  2. a yellowish-white colour
  3. a type of paper with a slightly rough finish
  4. (modifier) (of paint) having a very slight sheenan eggshell finish
  5. walk on eggshells to be very cautious or diplomatic for fear of upsetting someone
  1. of a yellowish-white coloureggshell paint
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for eggshell


early 15c., from egg (n.) + shell (n.). Earlier ay-schelle (c.1300). Emblematic of "thin and delicate" from 1835; as a color term, from 1894. The figure of treading on eggshells "to move cautiously" is attested by 1734.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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