soft·​shell | \ ˈsȯf(t)-ˌshel How to pronounce softshell (audio) \

Definition of softshell

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of a family (Trionychidae) of freshwater carnivorous turtles that have sharp claws and mandibles and a flat round shell covered with soft leathery skin instead of with horny plates

called also soft-shelled turtle


\ ˈsȯf(t)-ˌshel How to pronounce soft-shell (audio) \
variants: or soft-shelled \ ˈsȯf(t)-​ˈsheld How to pronounce soft-shell (audio) \

Definition of soft-shell (Entry 2 of 2)

: having a soft or fragile shell especially as a result of recent shedding soft-shell crabs

Illustration of softshell

Illustration of softshell


In the meaning defined above

Examples of softshell in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The state Division of Marine Fisheries banned harvesting of all softshell and razor clams, the Gloucester Daily Times reported Friday. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 19 July 2021 The YayLabs softshell ice cream ball will have your kids earning their after-dinner dessert in a fun and active way. Ariel Klein, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 July 2021 For lunch, perhaps a softshell crab sandwich or burrata flatbread?, 29 Apr. 2021 While softshell pants sacrifice waterproofing capability, that’s OK. Outdoor Life, 24 Feb. 2021 Compared to water-resistant softshell jackets, which are meant for milder weather or as layering options, waterproof hardshell jackets are designed to keep out even the harshest downpour. Matthew Young,, 20 Mar. 2021 Simply put, the difference between a hardshell and a softshell jacket is that a hardshell jacket is completely waterproof. Outdoor Life, 16 Mar. 2021 This one’s aluminum hardshell makes for a slim, seven-inch profile on top of a vehicle, which doesn’t drag mpg down as much as the softshell variety. The Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 29 Dec. 2020 Only a handful of infectious cancers have been identified in nature, including one that affects domestic dogs and another that harms softshell clams. Jason Bittel, Animals, 10 Dec. 2020

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


1830, in the meaning defined above


1611, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for softshell

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The first known use of softshell was in 1611

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Dictionary Entries Near softshell

soft serve



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Last Updated

31 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Softshell.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Aug. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of soft-shell

US : having a shell that is soft or easily broken


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