• synonyms


  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.
Show More
  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.
Show More

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
Show More
  1. of a yellowish-white coloureggshell paint
Show More
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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper