Walking On Eggshells - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone you're tired of holding your tongue around people? If so, you could say you're sick of "walking on eggshells." This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The meaning of the expression "walking on eggshells" is to be careful with what you say. It can mean that you need to watch the language you use or the topics you talk about.

For instance, if your friend's mother is Jewish, they wouldn't appreciate you making any reference to the holocaust around them. Therefore, if you somehow end up on that topic, your friend might tell you to be careful because you're "walking on eggshells."

It's a way of telling someone to watch what they say because there is a good chance it will offend someone listening. The person doing the talking would need to be cautious with their language as if they were "walking on eggshells."

You could use the expression when you're telling people how you had to walk on eggshells around other people that were sensitive to what you had to say about a certain political or religious topic.

Example Usage

"When mom gets up in the morning, she's grumpy. We'll have to walk on eggshells around the house if she's going to let us have it."

"Whenever I'm around the boss, I feel nervous. It's like I'm walking on eggshells all the time, and I don't like it."

"That guy Steven is so sensitive about political issues. Whenever he's around, we're all walking on eggshells to make sure we don't set him off."

"Walking on eggshells around others means you're never going to show them how you really feel. I think that's kind of sociopathic behavior, don't you?"

"I make it a habit of walking on eggshells whenever I'm around Sheila. She gives me the creeps."

"I'm tired of walking on eggshells around these people. If they can't deal with me having an account on OnlyFans, then I need to find new roommates."


The expression "walking on eggshells" originates from the 1800s. In these times, people would collect eggs from the hen houses, taking care not to walk on any broken eggshells that might disturb the birds. Language experts are unsure of the exact origin of the saying or when it appeared in writing.

However, the phrase's origin suggests that one would need to be very careful walking on eggshells to prevent them from breaking.

Phrases Similar to Walking On Eggshells

  • On thin ice.
  • Hold your tongue.
  • Dial things back.

Phrases Opposite to Walking On Eggshells

  • In your face.
  • Brash and brazen.
  • Unconcerned about others' feelings.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Walking on eggshells.
  • Walk on eggshells.

Ways People May Say Walking On Eggshells Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with the physical act of walking on eggshells. Some people may use the term to describe the action of offending someone and crushing their spirit, but this is the incorrect use of the saying.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Walking On Eggshells

You can use "walking on eggshells" in social and professional settings. The phrase describes being careful with words or actions around others as it may cause controversy or start an argument. For instance, you could say that the boss is feeling annoyed at last month's sales figures at work. So, you had better walk on eggshells when talking to him. You would be walking on eggshells in social circles if you spoke about a crime and one of your friends recently lost someone in a crime-related incident.

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