Meaning of SHELL in English


I. ˈshel noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English schell, shell, from Old English sciell; akin to Old English scealu shell, husk, Middle Low German schelle shell, scale on a fish, Old High German scala shell, husk, Old Norse skel shell, Gothic skalja tile, Latin silex pebble, flint, siliqua pod, Greek skallein to hoe, Lithuanian skelti to split, Sanskrit kalā small part; basic meaning: to cut


a. : a hard rigid covering of an animal that is commonly largely calcareous but in some cases is chiefly or partly chitinous, horny, or siliceous — see clam illustration

b. : the hard or tough outer covering of an egg especially of a bird — see egg illustration

c. obsolete : a scale of a fish or reptile


a. : the covering or outside part of a fruit or seed especially when hard or fibrous : nutshell , pod , husk

the hazelnut shell

the fiber-covered shell of the coconut

— compare pericarp

b. usually plural : cocoa shells

3. : a seashell used for some purpose (as for a target or for drinking or sounding) : conch

4. archaic : ostracon

5. : shell material or a quantity of shells especially of mollusks, turtles, or tortoises

6. : something that resembles or is held to resemble a shell: as

a. : a hollow structure usually of a spherical, hemispherical, or domed shape

b. : a slight hollow structure : a framework or exterior structure that is frail in construction or has had its interior removed or destroyed or is regarded as not complete or filled in

the shell of a house

c. : a semicircular or nearly semicircular guard plate sometimes of openwork attached to the cross guard on either side of a European sword of the 15th century and later : coquille

d. archaic : lyre

e. : the external case or outside covering of something : husk

the shell of a ship

the shell of religion

f. : the outer frame or case of a pulley block


(1) : a rough or temporary wooden coffin

(2) : a thin interior coffin enclosed in a more substantial one

h. : concha 2b(1)


(1) : something shaped like a scallop shell ; especially : a household utensil for cooking or serving

(2) : an edible case for holding a filling

j. : a hollow cabochon

k. : a reinforced concrete arched or domed roof that is used primarily over large unpartitioned areas, is comparatively thin especially at the crown of the arch, and carries no loads other than its own weight

l. : a prepared and usually hollow counterpart of an object that is secretly substituted by a magician for the article itself

m. : an unlined article of outerwear ; especially : a coat or jacket with a detachable lining

n. : a woman's small hat with a shell shape

o. : a needlework stitch forming a rounded edge similar to that of a shell

p. : a small beer glass

q. : the outer wall of a mold used in metallurgy

r. : the part in a loom in which the reed is fitted

s. shells plural : tinted glasses for protection of the eyes

t. : a tool used in grinding glass to exact curvatures

u. : the thin layer of copper or nickel deposited on a mold to form the face of an electrotype

v. : the outer wall of a hollow tile

w. : the metal frame around the core and tanks of the radiator and body of a motor vehicle

x. : an engraved copper roller used in calico printing


a. : the crust of the earth or of any of the continuous layers within the earth

b. : a thin hard layer of rock

8. : an intermediate form at an English public school

9. : unslaked limestone — usually used in plural


a. : a shell-bearing mollusk

b. : any of various other shell-bearing creatures — usually used in combination

11. : a building or similar structure without interior partitions and usually without furnishings or decorations

12. : an impersonal attitude or manner that conceals the presence or absence of feeling

come out of one's shell

especially : a forbidding and uncommunicative manner

13. : a narrow light racing boat equipped with outriggers and sliding seats and propelled by one or more oarsmen:

a. : one used in sculling that has no rudder and is propelled by one, two, or four oarsmen who sit in single file each pulling a pair of oars

b. : one used in crew racing that is usually steered with a rudder by a coxswain and is propelled by two, four, six, or eight oarsmen who sit in single file and pull a single oar placed alternately on the port or starboard side

14. : the butt of a horsehide — compare cordovan

15. : a pale orange yellow that is paler and slightly yellower than sunset and paler and slightly redder than freestone


a. : a thin hollow cylinder (as the barrel of a cylindrical boiler or the knurled outer piece of a drill chuck)

b. : a concave grinding wheel

c. : a cupped usually semifinished piece of sheet metal

d. : shell bit

17. : the part of a short loin of beef that contains no tenderloin : club steak


a. : any of the spaces occupied by the orbits of a group of electrons of approximately equal energy surrounding the nucleus of an atom — see k-shell , l-shell , m-shell

b. : a group of nucleons of like type and approximately equal energy

19. : a metal matrix from which phonograph records may be produced


a. archaic : a usually metal casing filled with powder and shot and used primarily as a hand grenade

b. : a hollow projectile for cannon containing an explosive bursting charge, chemical, or other material which is ignited by a fuze at some point of its flight, upon impact, or after penetration with its effect being produced by the force of explosion or by the impact of its scattered fragments — compare common shell

c. : a metal or paper case which holds the charge of powder and shot or bullet used with breech-loading small arms : cartridge — see bullet illustration

d. : a firework consisting of a spherical case or a cartridge containing a charge of explosive material (as a garniture of stars) that bursts after having been projected high into the air often by a mortar — compare rocket III 1

e. : torpedo 4b

21. : an unprinted paperboard carton to be overwrapped with a printed adhering paper covering

22. : a casing without substance

mere effigies and shells of men — Thomas Carlyle

- in the shell

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

transitive verb


a. : to take out of a natural enclosing cover (as a shell, husk, pod, capsule) : strip, break off, or remove the shell of : shuck

shell nuts or peas

shell oysters

b. : to separate the kernels of (as an ear of Indian corn, wheat, or oats) from the cob, ear, or husk

2. : to encase in or as if in a shell

3. : to throw shells at, upon, or into : bombard

shell a town

shell an enemy position or fortification

4. : to cover (a surface) with shells

shell an oyster bed

intransitive verb

1. : to fall or scale off in the manner of a shell, crust, or outer coat : come off in thin pieces

2. : to cast the shell or exterior covering : fall out of the pod or husk

nuts shell in falling

: become disengaged from the ear or husk

wheat or rye shells in reaping

3. : to gather shells (as from a beach) : collect shells

4. : to form a shell of a solution (as on the inner surface of the container in freeze-drying)

III. adjective

1. : having a shell

a shell animal or fruit

2. : consisting of or containing shells and especially seashells

a shell bluff

shell marl

shell concrete


a. : made from or ornamented with shells

shell earrings

shell belt

shell workbox

b. : made of tortoise shell

shell comb

4. : resembling a shell in shape or pattern

a shell roof

— used especially of a carved decoration on furniture of the period 1720-80

a shell chair

shell trimmings

5. : having a through longitudinal hole to receive a bar which is pushed through it and fastened in position — used of a tool

IV. noun

1. : a plain usually sleeveless overblouse

2. or shell company : a business that exists without assets or independent operation as a legal entity through which another company can conduct certain dealings

V. transitive verb

: to score heavily against (as a pitcher in baseball)

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.