shell

noun
\ ˈshel How to pronounce shell (audio) \
plural shells

Definition of shell

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a hard rigid usually largely calcareous covering or support of an animal
b : the hard or tough often thin outer covering of an egg (as of a bird or reptile) — see egg illustration
2 : the covering or outside part of a fruit or seed especially when hard or fibrous
3 : shell material (as of mollusks or turtles) or their substance
4 : something that resembles a shell: such as
a : a framework or exterior structure especially : a building with an unfinished interior
b(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 outer layer of usually baked or fried pastry dough or bread for holding a filling a pastry shell a taco salad in a tortilla shell
f : a small beer glass
g : an unlined article of outerwear
5 : a shell-bearing mollusk
6 : an impersonal attitude or manner that conceals the presence or absence of feeling he retreated into his shell
7 : a narrow light racing boat propelled by one or more persons pulling oars or sculls
8 : any of the regions occupied by the orbits of a group of electrons of approximately equal energy surrounding the nucleus of an atom
9a : a projectile for cannon containing an explosive bursting charge
b : a case (as of metal, paper, or plastic) that holds the charge of powder and shot or bullet used with breech-loading small arms a shotgun shell — compare cartridge
10 : a plain usually sleeveless blouse or sweater
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

verb
shelled; shelling; shells

Definition of shell (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to take out of a natural enclosing cover (such as a shell, husk, pod, or capsule) shell peanuts
b : to separate the kernels of (corn, wheat, oats, etc.) from the cob, ear, or husk
2 : to throw shells at, upon, or into : bombard
3 : to score heavily against (someone, such as an opposing pitcher in baseball)

intransitive verb

1 : to fall or scale off in thin pieces
2 : to cast the shell or exterior covering : fall out of the pod or husk nuts which shell in falling
3 : to gather shells (as from a beach)

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Other Words from shell

Noun

shell adjective

Examples of shell in a Sentence

Noun

the shell of a crab We collected shells at the beach. We're going to have stuffed shells for dinner.

Verb

They shelled the enemy troops. The town was shelled during the battle.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Having become a shell of a woman, our poor children would have received the sum total of my cavernous insecurity. Reema Zaman, Vogue, "The Woman I Would Have Been Had I Let Myself Love You," 13 Feb. 2019 These are the Mets, a team that was playing in the World Series just three years ago, earned a wild-card spot two years ago, but are now just a shell of themselves. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Sleepless at Citi Field: Why Mickey Callaway is the latest to toss and turn managing the Mets," 18 June 2018 By the time the sun rose, a building that could be seen for miles around was a blackened, smoking shell. Jill Lawless, chicagotribune.com, "A year on, Grenfell Tower 'atrocity' haunts Britain," 14 June 2018 By the time the sun rose, a building that could be seen for miles around was a blackened, smoking shell. Fox News, "A year on, horrific Grenfell Tower fire haunts Britain," 14 June 2018 To do so, Cincinnati gave up on Mesoraco, who once looked like part of the next great Reds team but has been a shell of himself for the last few seasons. Jon Tayler, SI.com, "Trade to Reds Might Be Worst-Case Scenario for Matt Harvey," 8 May 2018 Arguably, today’s iteration of Mother’s Day is a shell of its original self, with specific promotions being offered as a way to make money for corporations. Teen Vogue, "Anna Jarvis, The Creator of Mother's Day, Died Hating The Holiday She Created," 10 May 2019 In 1950, the European luxury suitcase company Rimowa, beloved by designers and celebrities, alike, added its now signature grooves to the aluminum shell of its cases, inspired in part by the silhouettes of airplanes. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Rimowa Kicks Off Milan Design Week with a Stunning Aluminum Car Sculpture," 9 Apr. 2019 Perhaps there could even be a kernel inside the shell of neutrons and protons with that elusive negative mass required to power something like the Alcubierre warp drive. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The Orville blends science fiction and science fact into a winning mix," 29 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Last month, in successive starts, Miller was shelled at Virginia and then threw six shutout innings in beating Florida State. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "As Louisville baseball heads to the College World Series, their pitching depth shines," 8 June 2019 Mr Putin is losing patience with rebels who have also shelled Russian bases in Syria. The Economist, "Bashar al-Assad’s ruinous campaign to retake Idlib from Syrian rebels," 6 June 2019 On the hilltop above town stands a bold cross, marking the place from where Croat forces shelled the Bosniak side of the river. Exploring Mostar is a delight. Rick Steves, USA TODAY, "Rick Steves: Europe’s best border-busting day trips," 6 May 2018 The officials say the shelling early on Tuesday also wounded at least 20 people. Washington Post, "Yemeni officials: Rebel shelling kills 5 in Marib province," 22 May 2018 Airstrikes and shelling there on Monday killed 94 civilians, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, based in France. Nick Cumming-bruce, New York Times, "U.N. Panel Links Russia to Potential War Crime in Syria," 6 Mar. 2018 In 2015, the Houthis laid siege to the city, occupying surrounding mountain ranges, sealing the entrances and shelling it mercilessly. Maggie Michael, Fox News, "'Unite with the devil': Yemen war binds US, allies, al-Qaida," 7 Aug. 2018 Yeltsin then ordered tanks to shell the Parliament on Oct. 4. David Satter, WSJ, "When Russian Democracy Died," 20 Sep. 2018 But Sderot is still close enough to be shelled by machine-gun fire, as a few homes were last month. NBC News, "Israeli border communities fearful of Palestinian protests and threats of fire," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shell.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shell

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1562, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for shell

Noun

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

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Statistics for shell

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shell

The first known use of shell was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for shell

shell

noun

English Language Learners Definition of shell

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

shell

verb

English Language Learners Definition of shell (Entry 2 of 2)

: to remove the shell or outer covering of (something)
: to shoot shells at (someone or something) using large guns
US, informal : to score heavily against (a pitcher) in baseball

shell

noun
\ ˈshel How to pronounce shell (audio) \

Kids Definition of shell

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a stiff hard covering of an animal (as a turtle, oyster, or crab)
2 : the tough outer covering of an egg
3 : the outer covering of a nut, fruit, or seed especially when hard or tough walnut shells
4 : something like a shell (as in shape, function, or material) a pastry shell
5 : a narrow light racing boat rowed by one or more persons
6 : a metal or paper case holding the explosive charge and the shot or object to be fired from a gun or cannon

Other Words from shell

shelled \ ˈsheld \ adjective soft-shelled crabs

shell

verb
shelled; shelling

Kids Definition of shell (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to remove the shell or outer covering of shell nuts
2 : to remove the kernels of grain from (as a cob of corn)
3 : to shoot shells at or upon They shelled the enemy troops.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shell

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shell

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shell

Spanish Central: Translation of shell

Nglish: Translation of shell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shell for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about shell

Comments on shell

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