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-shelled (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

Bones, meanwhile, is known for its noodles — ramen, soba, udon — and steamed buns stuffed with things like pork belly, duck confit and softshell crab. Josie Sexton, The Denver Post, "Nashville hot chicken alert: Lou’s Food Bar from Frank Bonanno is returning from the dead," 27 June 2019 What if there were no more turtles?) Populations of softshell turtles are particularly vulnerable in Asia, where they are often eaten as a delicacy. Stefan Lovgren, National Geographic, "In Cambodia, giant turtles come back from the brink," 23 Apr. 2019 As for cost, most softshells come in around $1,000 to $2,000 while hardshells can run $2,000 to $5,000. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The 7 Best Rooftop Tents for Far-Out (and Closer-to-Home) Adventures," 26 Apr. 2019 Most of the dead animals are Florida softshell turtles; however, a few river cooters, olive or brown turtles with yellow stripes on their heads and necks, have also been found dead. Annie Martin,, "FWC investigating deaths of 100 turtles along St. Johns River," 30 May 2018 Shellfish offerings may include spiny lobsters, live softshell crab and Santa Barbara spot prawns. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "Nobu Houston now accepting reservations," 22 May 2018 There are native red belly and peninsula cooter turtles, exotic red-eared sliders and enormous softshell turtles. Kevin Spear,, "Lake Eola turtles need sunbathing perches, says club's petition," 10 May 2018 Probably the most unique turtle in our area is the softshell turtle. Cheryl Conley, Houston Chronicle, "TWRC Wildlife Center: Is it a turtle or a tortoise?," 30 Jan. 2018 In the fall, more than 20,000 migrating ducks will converge here, and in the summer, one of the refuge’s rarest species, spiny softshell turtles, will bask and forage on its gravelly beaches and sandbars. National Geographic, "Why Are These Male Fish Growing Eggs?," 3 Feb. 2016

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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Statistics for softshell

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for softshell

The first known use of softshell was in 1611

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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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