shell·​fish | \ˈshel-ˌfish \

Definition of shellfish 

: an aquatic invertebrate animal with a shell especially : an edible mollusk or crustacean

Examples of shellfish in a Sentence

lobsters, crabs, and other shellfish

Recent Examples on the Web

While top-end restaurants routinely receive live deliveries of shellfish, they are usually sourced through wholesalers, not from the actual fishers, and placed in back-of-house tanks. Gemma Zoe Price, WSJ, "The Fish Industry Is Plagued by Poor Quality and Fraud. One Chef Is Working to Combat It," 19 July 2018 Now a group of monkeys in Panama may have entered a Stone Age of their own, after being observed using rocks smash open nuts, shellfish, and other objects, according to a report in New Scientist. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Panama Monkeys Have Begun Using Rocks as Tools, Beginning Their Own Stone Age," 4 July 2018 Earlier this month, a group of capuchins were spotted in Panama using stone tools to smash shellfish and other foods, theWashington Post’s Sarah Kaplan reports. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Did the Human Hand Evolve as a Lean Mean Bone-Smashing Machine?," 13 July 2018 While Galicia is famed for its seafoods, the menus focus mainly on octopus, various types of shellfish and their coveted delicacy, barnacles. Doug Hansen,, "Hiking Spain's wild coast," 12 July 2018 Some of it gets consumed by fish and other animals swimming around in the water column, but there’s generally enough left over for some of it to fall down to the seafloor and nourish bottom feeders, such as clams and other shellfish. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Arctic Sea Ice Is Getting Younger. Here Is Why That Is a Problem.," 11 May 2018 How to survive: Don't eat raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "Be wary of these NC natural wonders this summer," 25 June 2018 In 2017, the U.S. imported nearly $2.7 billion of fish and shellfish from China, up 7.8% from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "Key Chinese Electronic Parts and Seafood Targeted in Latest U.S. Tariff Threat," 11 July 2018 Contact with contaminated fish and shellfish is also a risk factor, and crabs are known to carry Vibrio bacteria on their shells. Amanda Macmillan,, "Vibrio Vulnificus: What to Know About The 'Flesh-Eating Bacteria' That Has a New Jersey Man Fighting For His Life," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shellfish.' 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 shellfish

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for shellfish

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for shellfish

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

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More Definitions for shellfish



English Language Learners Definition of shellfish

: an animal (such as a crab or an oyster) that has a hard outer shell and that lives in water


shell·​fish | \ˈshel-ˌfish \
plural shellfish

Kids Definition of shellfish

: an invertebrate animal (as a clam or lobster) that has a hard outer shell and lives in water

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More from Merriam-Webster on shellfish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shellfish

Spanish Central: Translation of shellfish

Nglish: Translation of shellfish for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about shellfish

Comments on shellfish

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


a nest or breeding place

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