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Assorted chicken phrases and proverb questions

Posted by Word Camel on May 17, 2004

Greetings all,

I'm back from a week in the countryside where I bought fresh eggs and two poultry questions came up in conversation.

The first is whether phrase is 'like walking on eggs' or 'like 'walking on egg shells'. From a logical stand point, I think you could argue that either gets the point across, but having been wrong before (you've got another THINK coming), I'd like to know which it is.

The other is about the 'chickens coming home to roost.' (I should have asked the Menonite chicken lady, but didn't think of it). I'm wondering what chicken behavior is the basis of this expression. Do chickens habitually go awol, then reappear to roost? This would imply that the expression refers to a sort of inevitability. I have always understood it as implying that there is something necessarily negative about having them come home to roost. Is that the case in chicken farming? Does the return of ne'r do well chickens cause problems?

Though these aren't probably the most burning questions ever to hit Phrase Finder, I'm sincerely curious.

Thanks

Countrified Camel