- In his Vulgar Errors (1686), Sir Thomas Browne noted:to break an egg after ye meate is out we are taught in our childhood ... and the intent thereof was to prevent witchcraft; lest witches should draw or prick their names therein and veneficiously mischiefe ye persons, they broke ye shell This custome ofbreaking the bottom of the eggeshell is yet commonly used in the countrey. (Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1686), v. xxii, para. 4)Others, including Reginald Scot in 1584, had heard say that witches sailed in eggshells; thus by driving the spoon through the shells one was 'sinking the witch boats' and preventing shipwrecks. Children were still being taught this in the 1930s; a poem written in 1934 runs:Oh, never leave your eggshells unbroken in the cup, Think of us poor sailor-men and always smash them up,For witches come and find them and sail away to sea, And make a lot of misery for mariners like me.(Gill, 1993: 97)■ Newall, 1971: 80-7; Opie and Tatem, 1989: 135-6.
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
Look at other dictionaries:
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walk on eggshells — If you have to walk on eggshells when with someone, you have to be very careful because they get angry or offended very easily. (Dorking School Dictionary) *** If you walk on eggshells with someone, you are careful not to hurt or… … English Idioms & idiomatic expressions
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be treading on eggshells — be walking/treading on eggshells if you are walking on eggshells, you are trying very hard not to upset someone. It was like walking on eggshells with my father. The smallest thing would make him angry … New idioms dictionary
Brewery of Eggshells — is a Welsh fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in his Celtic Fairy Tales . [Joseph Jacobs, Celtic Fairy Tales , [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/jacobs/celtic/breweryofeggshells.html Brewery of Eggshells ] ] ynopsisA woman had to… … Wikipedia
walk on eggshells — to try very hard not to upset someone or something. Everyone at the company was walking on eggshells until we heard that no one would be fired. Etymology: based on the idea that eggshells are easily broken … New idioms dictionary