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Walking on Eggshells: Meaning, Examples & Origin (2024)

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how do you use walking on eggshells in a sentenceImagine constantly tiptoeing around, afraid of setting off an explosion with every step.

In this article, we’ll explore the meaning, examples, and origin of this intriguing phrase that captures the delicate art of navigating fragile situations. Whether it’s dealing with a sensitive loved one or trying to avoid conflict at work, understanding how to use walking on eggshells in a sentence will empower you to communicate more effectively and maintain peace in your relationships.

Key Takeaways

  • Walking on eggshells is a phrase used to describe the act of carefully monitoring one’s words and actions to avoid upsetting or angering someone.
  • This behavior is often employed to maintain a positive relationship or avoid conflict, but it can also cause stress and anxiety.
  • The phrase conveys the need for delicate treading around sensitive individuals, similar to how one would handle fragile eggshells.
  • Synonyms for walking on eggshells include treading carefully, tiptoeing around emotions, and treating someone delicately.

Meaning of Walking on Eggshells

Meaning of Walking on Eggshells
You’re walking on eggshells when you carefully monitor your words and actions around someone to avoid upsetting or angering them. It’s often done to avoid conflict or maintain a positive relationship, but can also cause stress if you feel like you constantly need to tiptoe around certain topics.

You may tread lightly to prevent the figurative eggshells from breaking – that is, to stop a sensitive situation from escalating into an argument or damaged feelings.

Ultimately, walking on eggshells means being extremely cautious and careful about what you say and do to avoid negative consequences in a relationship. Monitoring your behavior can be necessary, but taken too far, it can negatively impact open communication.

Example Sentences of Walking on Eggshells

Example Sentences of Walking on Eggshells
Since the meaning of walking on eggshells refers to being extremely careful around someone to avoid upsetting them, you’d use this idiom in situations where someone is easily offended or angered.

For example,

When talking to my boss, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells because she gets upset really easily over tiny mistakes.

Another example is,

I’ve to walk on eggshells whenever my grandmother visits because she takes offense so easily.


My roommate is going through a tough time so I’m walking on eggshells and avoiding saying anything that could upset her.

In relationships, you may find yourself walking on eggshells after a fight to avoid saying the wrong thing.

The idiom conveys the need to tiptoe around someone’s feelings and be careful not to make a mistake that could anger or annoy them. Treating someone with kid gloves by being cautious about what you say captures the essence of walking on eggshells.

Synonyms for Walking on Eggshells

Synonyms for Walking on Eggshells
Now that you’ve seen examples of walking on eggshells, it’s important to explore some synonyms for this delicate situation.

When dealing with sensitive individuals, it’s crucial to tread carefully and tiptoe around their emotions.

Another synonym for walking on eggshells is to handle someone with kid gloves or treat them delicately.

Additionally, when navigating such situations, one needs to be on their toes or be on pins and needles at all times in order to not upset the other person.

It’s also essential to avoid rocking the boat by being careful not to upset or offend them unintentionally; instead, employ tactfulness and sensitivity while communicating with them so as not walk too heavily upon emotional eggshells.

Origin of the Phrase Walking on Eggshells

Origin of the Phrase Walking on Eggshells
When exploring the origin of the phrase walking on eggshells, it becomes evident that this idiom emerged in the 1800s to describe the need for linguistic caution around sensitive individuals.

  • The term began being used in the 1800s for people requiring linguistic caution, similar to tiptoeing around sensitive feelings.
  • The visual of eggshells smashing if tread on too heavily illustrates the necessity of a gentle way of speaking and acting.
  • It parallels other idioms demanding care like walking on thin ice.
  • The concept relates to being careful, cautious, and avoiding annoying or offending someone.

Similar Expressions to Walking on Eggshells

Similar Expressions to Walking on Eggshells
If you’re always worried about upsetting someone, you may feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells around them. But don’t worry, there are other expressions that convey a similar idea of being cautious and careful in your interactions.

You can tread lightly or tiptoe around sensitive topics or individuals to avoid causing any offense. It’s like walking a tightrope or walking on thin ice, where one wrong step could lead to potential conflict.

When you’re unsure how someone will react, it’s natural to be on pins and needles or be on edge, always anticipating their response.

So remember to be careful and cautious with your words and actions when dealing with touchy subjects or delicate personalities.

How to Use Walking on Eggshells in a Sentence

How to Use Walking on Eggshells in a Sentence
To use the phrase walking on eggshells in a sentence, you need to carefully choose your words and actions around someone who’s easily offended.

Here are four situations where walking on eggshells is necessary:

  1. When discussing sensitive topics like politics or religion with someone who’s strong opinions.
  2. In a professional setting, when dealing with a boss or coworker who’s known for being easily angered.
  3. When interacting with family members during tense family gatherings or events.
  4. In romantic relationships, especially during arguments or discussions about sensitive subjects.

While there are reasons why people walk on eggshells – such as avoiding conflict and maintaining harmony – there can be negative effects as well, like suppressing one’s true thoughts and feelings.

On the positive side, walking on eggshells can help maintain peace in certain situations by preventing unnecessary conflicts.

To stop constantly feeling the need to walk on eggshells around others, it’s important to establish open communication channels and set boundaries while also practicing self-assertiveness skills.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the literal meaning of the phrase walking on eggshells?

The literal meaning of walking on eggshells refers to taking delicate, cautious steps as if actually walking on fragile eggshells that could break. This evokes the idea of carefully monitoring one’s behavior to avoid upsetting or offending someone who’s emotionally sensitive or easily irritated.

The phrase asks us to imagine gently treading around another’s volatile feelings.

Can the phrase walking on eggshells be used to describe a situation other than being careful around someone?

You’re right – the idiom can apply more broadly.

For example, when navigating a tense workplace environment, you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells – carefully monitoring everything you say and do to avoid upsetting leadership or colleagues.

The phrase conveys that fragile, cautious feeling beyond just interpersonal relationships.

Are there any cultural or historical references associated with the phrase walking on eggshells?

Culturally, the phrase walking on eggshells refers to being cautious around someone.

Historically, it originated in the 1800s as a metaphor for delicate steps required when handling sensitive individuals.

Are there any idioms or expressions in other languages that convey a similar meaning to walking on eggshells?

Yes, there are.

In Spanish, pisar huevos conveys the same meaning.

In French, marcher sur des œufs expresses the same idea.

In German, the idiom auf Eiern gehen also means to walk on eggshells.

These all illustrate the cautiousness and care needed when dealing with a sensitive situation or person.

How does the phrase walking on eggshells differ from the phrase treading lightly?

When treading lightly, you gingerly test uncertain ground.

Walking on eggshells demands an extreme care where one misplaced step triggers swift calamity.

You tread cautiously out of care, yet walk on shells dreading explosive disorder – both require a gentle gait, but shells impose a fragility which magnifies each unsteady pace.


You’ll find walking on eggshells happens nearly 50% of the time in strained relationships.

Ultimately, open and compassionate communication is key to nurturing healthy connections.

When using walking on eggshells in a sentence, reflect on how to convey your feelings without blame so all parties can understand one another.

With care and courage, you can pave the path to mutual understanding without needing to tiptoe around the truth.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is an author and software engineer from the United States, I and a group of experts made this blog with the aim of answering all the unanswered questions to help as many people as possible.