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noun \ˈshel\

Simple Definition of shell

  • : the hard outer covering of an animal, insect, etc., that protects it

  • : the hard outer covering of an egg

  • : the hard outer covering of a nut, fruit, or seed

Full Definition of shell

  1. 1a :  a hard rigid usually largely calcareous covering or support of an animalb :  the hard or tough often thin outer covering of an egg (as of a bird or reptile) — see egg illustration

  2. 2 :  the covering or outside part of a fruit or seed especially when hard or fibrous

  3. 3 :  shell material (as of mollusks or turtles) or their substance

  4. 4 :  something that resembles a shell: asa :  a framework or exterior structure; especially :  a building with an unfinished interiorb (1) :  an external case or outside covering <the shell of a ship> (2) :  a thin usually spherical layer or surface enclosing a space or surrounding an object <an expanding shell of gas around a neutron star>c :  a casing without substance <mere effigies and shells of men — Thomas Carlyle>d :  an edible crust for holding a filling <a pastry shell> <a taco salad in a tortilla shell>e :  band shellf :  a small beer glassg :  an unlined article of outerwear

  5. 5 :  a shell-bearing mollusk

  6. 6 :  an impersonal attitude or manner that conceals the presence or absence of feeling <he retreated into his shell>

  7. 7 :  a narrow light racing boat propelled by one or more persons pulling oars or sculls

  8. 8 :  any of the regions occupied by the orbits of a group of electrons of approximately equal energy surrounding the nucleus of an atom

  9. 9a :  a projectile for cannon containing an explosive bursting chargeb :  a metal or paper case which holds the charge of powder and shot or bullet used with breech-loading small arms

  10. 10 :  a plain usually sleeveless blouse or sweater

  11. 11 :  a company or corporation that exists without assets or independent operations as a legal entity through which another company or corporation can conduct various dealings

shell adjective

Examples of shell

  1. the shell of a crab

  2. We collected shells at the beach.

  3. We're going to have stuffed shells for dinner.

Origin of shell

Middle English, from Old English sciell; akin to Old English scealu shell, Old Norse skel, Lithuanian skelti to split, Greek skallein to hoe

First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with shell




Simple Definition of shell

  • : to remove the shell or outer covering of (something)

  • : to shoot shells at (someone or something) using large guns

  • : to score heavily against (a pitcher) in baseball

Full Definition of shell

  • transitive verb
    1. 1a :  to take out of a natural enclosing cover (as a shell, husk, pod, or capsule) <shell peanuts>b :  to separate the kernels of (as an ear of Indian corn, wheat, or oats) from the cob, ear, or husk

    2. 2 :  to throw shells at, upon, or into :  bombard

    3. 3 :  to score heavily against (as an opposing pitcher in baseball)

    4. intransitive verb
    5. 1 :  to fall or scale off in thin pieces

    6. 2 :  to cast the shell or exterior covering :  fall out of the pod or husk <nuts which shell in falling>

    7. 3 :  to gather shells (as from a beach)

    Examples of shell

    1. They shelled the enemy troops.

    2. The town was shelled during the battle.


    First Known Use of shell


    SHELL Defined for Kids



    noun \ˈshel\

    Definition of shell

    1. 1 :  a stiff hard covering of an animal (as a turtle, oyster, or crab)

    2. 2 :  the tough outer covering of an egg

    3. 3 :  the outer covering of a nut, fruit, or seed especially when hard or tough <walnut shells>

    4. 4 :  something like a shell (as in shape, function, or material) <a pastry shell>

    5. 5 :  a narrow light racing boat rowed by one or more persons

    6. 6 :  a metal or paper case holding the explosive charge and the shot or object to be fired from a gun or cannon

    shelled \ˈsheld\ adjective <soft-shelled crabs>




    Definition of shell


    1. 1 :  to remove the shell or outer covering of <shell nuts>

    2. 2 :  to remove the kernels of grain from (as a cob of corn)

    3. 3 :  to shoot shells at or upon <They shelled the enemy troops.>

    Seen and Heard

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    February 13, 2016

    a trying or distressing experience

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