shell

noun
\ ˈshel \
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)

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Slices of orange clam, served in the shell, resist when bitten before finally giving way. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "No-frills Sushi Nakano one of the best casual sushi restaurants in Phoenix," 10 July 2018 The chain, with five South Florida locations as well as spots in New York City and Denver, serves kava in coconut shells. Dan Sweeney, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Kavasutra Kava Bar serves its libations with a side of sexism and transphobia that has social media enraged," 10 July 2018 Prussic acid is a leading ingredient in the new poison gas, which is being used by both the Germans and the allies in shells. Johnny Miller, SFChronicle.com, "Wayback Machine: 101 California Street shooting kills eight in 1993," 5 July 2018 Mann’s rendition of a stuffy is creamier than its typical New England counterpart, the quahog meat blended with mozzarella, herbs and housemade focaccia crumbs, then gratinéed in the shell. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "Jersey Shore restaurants offer tasty food options from Cape May to LBI," 29 June 2018 Measure 1 teaspoon brie, and carefully place that amount in each tart shell. Alysha Witwicki, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How to have big fun with mini-appetizers and mini-cocktails," 2 June 2018 Creamy pasta is encapsulated in a crispy shell topped with pecorino cheese in this Wine Bar George small plate. Lauren Delgado, OrlandoSentinel.com, "First bite: Wine Bar George in Disney Springs," 1 June 2018 The diggers are allowed to take 350,000 to 400,000 pounds of clams in the shell this year and are paid 65 to 75 cents per pound. Laine Welch, Anchorage Daily News, "Here’s how Alaska fishery managers expect this salmon season to play out," 15 May 2018 That court has jurisdiction over the two shell companies — FF Peak Holding and FF Top Holding — which Jia uses to protect his ownership stake. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Federal court freezes Faraday Future CEO’s ownership stake, California mansions," 14 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Sunday that over the past month at least 30 civilians have been killed and another 52 wounded by shelling and airstrikes in the area, including three children and two women. Samy Magdy, The Seattle Times, "UN envoy arrives in Yemen after deadly weekend attack," 28 Jan. 2019 The neo-Moorish City Hall, a monument to multiculturalism that was shelled and burned, has been burnished to a high standard. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, "In a New Cold War With Russia, Balkans Become a Testing Ground," 10 Apr. 2018 Fox News host Sean Hannity has ties to shell companies that own tens of millions of dollars in real estate, including some purchased through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a recent report. Leada Gore, AL.com, "Sean Hannity companies reportedly spent $90 million on property, including some in Alabama," 23 Apr. 2018 With the smooth, or shell, side of the large piece of leather facing down, place the smaller pieces shell side up so that they are aligned with the outside edges of the larger piece. Jeremy Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "How To Make a Leather Wallet," 20 Aug. 2018 Place the sauteed greens in a blender or food processor with ½ cup toasted shelled pistachios or walnut pieces, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and ¼ cup water. Sarah Fritsche, San Francisco Chronicle, "Citrus, chicories and the winter farmers’ markets," 2 Feb. 2018 On Sunday, Israeli shelling killed three Palestinian militants from the smaller Islamic Jihad group after the troops found a bomb planted along the border. NBC News, "Mortar shells fired from Gaza, Israeli military says," 29 May 2018 On Sunday, Israeli shelling killed three Palestinian militants from the smaller Islamic Jihad group after the troops found a bomb planted along the border. Washington Post, "Israeli military: More than 25 mortar shells fired from Gaza," 29 May 2018 On Sunday, Israeli shelling killed three militants from the smaller Islamic Jihad group, which vowed retaliation. Fox News, "Israel, Hamas trade fire on Gaza border; Palestinian killed," 28 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shell

Statistics for shell

Last Updated

6 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shell

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up shell? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to deny responsibility for

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!