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[eg-shel] /ˈɛgˌʃɛl/
the shell of a bird's egg, consisting of keratin fibers and calcite crystals.
a pale yellowish-white color.
rather bulky paper having a slightly rough finish.
like an eggshell, as in thinness and delicacy; very brittle; fragile.
being pale yellowish-white in color.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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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.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 8 Charles H. Sylvester
  • 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.

  • When you try to chaff people, it is like an elephant dancing on eggshell china.

    Mammon and Co. E. F. Benson
  • Listen how I shall crush all your lengthy yam into an eggshell.

    Tom Cringle's Log Michael Scott
  • Canoe is smashed like eggshell, but is on top of ice and cannot sink.

    Love of Life Jack London
  • I can eat and talk—put the facts in an eggshell, so to speak.

  • As he dropped the boat in the river, it danced as uneasily and buoyantly as an eggshell.

    The Frontier Angel Edward S. Ellis
British Dictionary definitions for eggshell


the hard porous protective outer layer of a bird's egg, consisting of calcite and protein
a yellowish-white colour
a type of paper with a slightly rough finish
(modifier) (of paint) having a very slight sheen: an eggshell finish
walk on eggshells, to be very cautious or diplomatic for fear of upsetting someone
of a yellowish-white colour: eggshell 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
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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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