What does shell mean?

Definitions for shell

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word shell.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. shellnoun

    ammunition consisting of a cylindrical metal casing containing an explosive charge and a projectile; fired from a large gun

  2. shellnoun

    the material that forms the hard outer covering of many animals

  3. carapace, shell, cuticle, shieldnoun

    hard outer covering or case of certain organisms such as arthropods and turtles

  4. shellnoun

    the hard usually fibrous outer layer of some fruits especially nuts

  5. shell, eggshellnoun

    the exterior covering of a bird's egg

  6. shellnoun

    a rigid covering that envelops an object

    "the satellite is covered with a smooth shell of ice"

  7. shell, racing shellnoun

    a very light narrow racing boat

  8. shell, case, casingnoun

    the housing or outer covering of something

    "the clock has a walnut case"

  9. plate, scale, shellnoun

    a metal sheathing of uniform thickness (such as the shield attached to an artillery piece to protect the gunners)

  10. shellverb

    the hard largely calcareous covering of a mollusc or a brachiopod

  11. blast, shellverb

    use explosives on

    "The enemy has been shelling us all day"

  12. blast, shellverb

    create by using explosives

    "blast a passage through the mountain"

  13. shellverb

    fall out of the pod or husk

    "The corn shelled"

  14. shellverb

    hit the pitches of hard and regularly

    "He shelled the pitcher for eight runs in the first inning"

  15. shellverb

    look for and collect shells by the seashore

  16. beat, beat out, crush, shell, trounce, vanquishverb

    come out better in a competition, race, or conflict

    "Agassi beat Becker in the tennis championship"; "We beat the competition"; "Harvard defeated Yale in the last football game"

  17. shellverb

    remove from its shell or outer covering

    "shell the legumes"; "shell mussels"

  18. husk, shellverb

    remove the husks from

    "husk corn"


  1. shellcontraction

    Contraction of she will or she shall.

  2. shellnoun

    The calcareous or chitinous external covering of mollusks, crustaceans, and some other invertebrates.

  3. shellnoun

    The hard calcareous covering of a bird egg.

  4. shellnoun

    The exoskeleton or wing covers of certain insects.

  5. shellnoun

    The covering, or outside part, of a nut.

    The black walnut and the hickory nut, both of the same Genus as the pecan, have much thicker and harder shells than the pecan.

  6. shellnoun

    A pod containing the seeds of certain plants, such as the legume Phaseolus vulgaris.

  7. shellnoun

    Husks of cacao seeds, a decoction of which is sometimes used as a substitute or adulterant for cocoa and its products such as chocolate.

  8. shellnoun

    The conjoined scutes that comprise the "shell" (carapace) of a tortoise or turtle.

  9. shellnoun

    The overlapping hard plates comprising the armor covering the armadillo's body.

  10. shellnoun

    The accreted mineral formed around a hollow geode.

  11. shellverb

    To remove the outer covering or shell of something. See sheller.

  12. shellverb

    To bombard, to fire projectiles at.

  13. shellverb

    To disburse or give up money, to pay. (Often used with out).

  14. shellnoun

    The casing of a self-contained single-unit artillery projectile.

  15. shellnoun

    A hollow usually spherical or cylindrical projectile fired from a seige mortar or a smoothbore cannon. It contains an explosive substance designed to be ignited by a fuse or by percussion at the target site so that it will burst and scattered at high velocity its contents and fragments. Formerly called a bomb.

  16. shellnoun

    The cartridge of a breechloading firearm; a load; a bullet; a round.

  17. shellnoun

    Any slight hollow structure; a framework, or exterior structure, regarded as not complete or filled in, as the shell of a house.

  18. shellnoun

    A garment, usually worn by women, such as a shirt, blouse, or top, with short sleeves or no sleeves, that often fastens in the rear.

  19. shellnoun

    A coarse or flimsy coffin; a thin interior coffin enclosed within a more substantial one.

  20. shellnoun

    A string instrument, as a lyre, whose acoustical chamber is formed like a shell.

    The first lyre may have been made by drawing strings over the underside of a tortoise shell.

  21. shellnoun

    The body of a drum; the often wooden, often cylindrical acoustic chamber, with or without rims added for tuning and for attaching the drum head.

  22. shellnoun

    An engraved copper roller used in print works.

  23. shellnoun

    The watertight outer covering of the hull of a vessel, often made with planking or metal plating.

  24. shellnoun

    The outer frame or case of a block within which the sheaves revolve.

  25. shellnoun

    A light boat the frame of which is covered with thin wood, impermeable fabric, or water-proofed paper; a racing shell or dragon boat.

  26. shellnoun

    An operating system software user interface, whose primary purpose is to launch other programs and control their interactions; the user's command interpreter.

  27. shellnoun

    A set of atomic orbitals that have the same principal quantum number.

  28. shellnoun

    An emaciated person.

    He's lost so much weight from illness; he's a shell of his former self.

  29. shellnoun

    A psychological barrier to social interaction.

    Even after months of therapy he's still in his shell.

  30. shellnoun

    A legal entity that has no operations.

    A shell corporation was formed to acquire the old factory.

  31. Shellnoun

    A diminutive of the female given name Michelle.

  32. Etymology: schelle, from (Anglian) scell 'eggshell, seashell', (South) sciell, sciel, from skēlō (cf. West Frisian skyl 'peel, rind', Dutch schil 'peel, skin, rink', Low German 'shell, scale'), from (s)kel- 'to split, cleave' (cf. Irish scelec 'pebble', Latin silex 'pebble, flint', siliqua 'pod', Old Church Slavonic 'shell'). More at shale.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Shellnoun

    Etymology: scyll, sceall , Saxon; schale, schelle, Dutch.

    The sun is as the fire, and the exterior earth is as the shell of the eolipile, and the abyss as the water within it; now when the heat of the sun had pierced thro’ the shell and reach’d the waters, it rarefy’d them. Thomas Burnet, Theo. of the Earth.

    Whatever we fetch from under ground is only what is lodged in the shell of the earth. John Locke.

    Her women wear
    The spoils of nations in an ear;
    Chang’d for the treasure of a shell,
    And in their loose attires do swell. Ben Jonson, Catiline.

    Was to Neptune recommended;
    Peace and plenty spread the sails:
    Venus, in her shell before him,
    From the sands in safety bore him. John Dryden, Albion.

    The shells served as moulds to this sand, which, when consolidated, and afterwards freed from its investient shell, is of the same shape as the cavity of the shell. John Woodward.

    He, whom ungrateful Athens could expel,
    At all times just, but when he sign’d the shell. Alexander Pope.

    Some fruits are contained within a hard shell, being the seeds of the plants. Arbuthnot.

    Chang’d loves are but chang’d sorts of meat;
    And when he hath the kernel eat,
    Who doth not throw away the shell? John Donne.

    Think him as a serpent’s egg,
    Which, hatch’d, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
    And kill him in the shell. William Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar.

    The marquis of Medina Sidonia made the shell of a house, that would have been a very noble building, had he brought it to perfection. Joseph Addison, on Italy.

    Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
    Within the hollow of that shell,
    That spoke so sweetly. Dryden.

    So devout are the Romanists about this outward shell of religion, that if an altar be moved, or a stone of it broken, it ought to be reconsecrated. John Ayliffe, Parergon.

  2. To Shellverb

    To take out of the shell; to strip of the shell.

    Etymology: from the noun.

  3. To Shellverb

    The ulcers were cured, and the scabs shelled off. Richard Wiseman.


  1. shell

    CONFIG.SYS is the primary configuration file for the DOS and OS/2 operating systems. It is a special ASCII text file that contains user-accessible setup or configuration directives evaluated by the operating system's DOS BIOS (typically residing in IBMBIO.COM or IO.SYS) during boot. CONFIG.SYS was introduced with DOS 2.0.


  1. shell

    A shell is a protective or enclosing layer, cover or structure either natural or manufactured. In the field of computing, it refers to a user interface to access an operating system's services. In biology, it refers to the hard protective outer case of an animal, like mollusks or turtles. In architecture, it refers to the frame or exterior of a building or object. So, its exact definition largely depends on the context in which it's being used.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Shellnoun

    a hard outside covering, as of a fruit or an animal

  2. Shellnoun

    the covering, or outside part, of a nut; as, a hazelnut shell

  3. Shellnoun

    a pod

  4. Shellnoun

    the hard covering of an egg

  5. Shellnoun

    the hard calcareous or chitinous external covering of mollusks, crustaceans, and some other invertebrates. In some mollusks, as the cuttlefishes, it is internal, or concealed by the mantle. Also, the hard covering of some vertebrates, as the armadillo, the tortoise, and the like

  6. Shellnoun

    hence, by extension, any mollusks having such a covering

  7. Shellnoun

    a hollow projectile, of various shapes, adapted for a mortar or a cannon, and containing an explosive substance, ignited with a fuse or by percussion, by means of which the projectile is burst and its fragments scattered. See Bomb

  8. Shellnoun

    the case which holds the powder, or charge of powder and shot, used with breechloading small arms

  9. Shellnoun

    any slight hollow structure; a framework, or exterior structure, regarded as not complete or filled in; as, the shell of a house

  10. Shellnoun

    a coarse kind of coffin; also, a thin interior coffin inclosed in a more substantial one

  11. Shellnoun

    an instrument of music, as a lyre, -- the first lyre having been made, it is said, by drawing strings over a tortoise shell

  12. Shellnoun

    an engraved copper roller used in print works

  13. Shellnoun

    the husks of cacao seeds, a decoction of which is often used as a substitute for chocolate, cocoa, etc

  14. Shellnoun

    the outer frame or case of a block within which the sheaves revolve

  15. Shellnoun

    a light boat the frame of which is covered with thin wood or with paper; as, a racing shell

  16. Shellverb

    to strip or break off the shell of; to take out of the shell, pod, etc.; as, to shell nuts or pease; to shell oysters

  17. Shellverb

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

  18. Shellverb

    to throw shells or bombs upon or into; to bombard; as, to shell a town

  19. Shellverb

    to fall off, as a shell, crust, etc

  20. Shellverb

    to cast the shell, or exterior covering; to fall out of the pod or husk; as, nuts shell in falling

  21. Shellverb

    to be disengaged from the ear or husk; as, wheat or rye shells in reaping

  22. Etymology: [OE. shelle, schelle, AS. scell, scyll; akin to D. shel, Icel. skel, Goth. skalja a tile, and E. skill. Cf. Scale of fishes, Shale, Skill.]


  1. Shell

    A shell is a payload-carrying projectile which, as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage sometimes includes large solid projectiles properly termed shot. Solid shot may contain a pyrotechnic compound if a tracer or spotting charge is used. Originally it was called a "bombshell", but "shell" has come to be unambiguous in a military context. "Bombshell" is still used figuratively to refer to a shockingly unexpected happening or revelation. All explosive- and incendiary-filled projectiles, particularly for mortars, were originally called grenades, derived from the pomegranate, whose seeds are similar to grains of powder. Words cognate with grenade are still used for an artillery or mortar projectile in some European languages. Shells are usually large-calibre projectiles fired by artillery and combat vehicles, and warships. Shells usually have the shape of a cylinder topped by an ogive-shaped nose for good aerodynamic performance, possibly with a tapering base; but some specialized types are quite different.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Shell

    shel, n. a term applied to the hard outer covering or skeleton of many animals, to the internal skeleton of some invertebrates, and to the outer covering-of the eggs of various animals: any framework: the outer ear: a testaceous mollusc: any frail structure: a frail boat: a rough kind of coffin: an instrument of music: a bomb: a hollow projectile containing a bursting charge of gunpowder or other explosive ignited at the required instant by means of either time or percussion fuses: the thin coating of copper on an electrotype: an intermediate class in some schools.—v.t. to break off the shell: to remove the shell from: to take out of the shell: to throw shells or bombs upon, to bombard.—v.i. to fall off like a shell: to cast the shell.—ns. Shellac (she-lak′, shel′ak), Shell′-lac, lac prepared in thin plates for making varnish, &c.—v.t. to coat with shellac.—ns. Shell′-back, an old sailor, a barnacle; Shell′-bark, either of two North American hickories.—adj. Shelled, having a shell, testaceous.—ns. Shell′er, one who shells or husks; Shell′fish, a popular term for many aquatic animals not fishes, esp. oysters, clams and all molluscs, and crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters; Shell′-gun, a cannon used for throwing shells, esp. horizontally: Shell′-heap, a prehistoric accumulation of shells, &c., pointing back to a race that lived on shellfish; Shell′-ice, ice no longer supported by the water beneath; Shell′-jack′et, an undress military jacket; Shell′-lime, lime procured from the shells of shellfish by burning; Shell′-lime′stone, a limestone largely consisting of shells; Shell′-marl, a white earthy deposit, resulting from the accumulation of fragments of shells; Shell′-mound, a shell-heap; Shell′-or′nament, decoration in which any shell-form is prominent.—adj. Shell′proof, proof against, or able to resist, shells or bombs.—ns. Shell′-room, a magazine on board ship where shells are stored; Shell′-sand, sand consisting in great part of fragments of shells, and often containing a small proportion of organic matter, a very useful manure for clay soils, heavy loams, and newly-reclaimed bogs; Shell′work, work composed of or adorned with shells.—adj. Shell′y, consisting of a shell: testaceous.—Shell out, (slang), to hand over, as money. [A.S. scell, scyl; Dut. schel, Ice. skel.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. shell

    [orig. Multics techspeak, widely propagated via Unix] 1. [techspeak] The command interpreter used to pass commands to an operating system; so called because it is the part of the operating system that interfaces with the outside world. 2. More generally, any interface program that mediates access to a special resource or server for convenience, efficiency, or security reasons; for this meaning, the usage is usually a shell around whatever. This sort of program is also called a wrapper. 3. A skeleton program, created by hand or by another program (like, say, a parser generator), which provides the necessary incantations to set up some task and the control flow to drive it (the term driver is sometimes used synonymously). The user is meant to fill in whatever code is needed to get real work done. This usage is common in the AI and Microsoft Windows worlds, and confuses Unix hackers.Historical note: Apparently, the original Multics shell (sense 1) was so called because it was a shell (sense 3); it ran user programs not by starting up separate processes, but by dynamically linking the programs into its own code, calling them as subroutines, and then dynamically de-linking them on return. The VMS command interpreter still does something very like this.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. shell

    In artillery, a hollow iron shot containing explosive materials, whether spherical, elongated, eccentric, &c., and destined to burst at the required instant by the action of its fuse (which see).--Common shells are filled with powder only, those fired from mortars being spherical, and having a thickness of about one-sixth of their diameter. (See also SEGMENT-SHELL and SHRAPNEL SHELL.) Also, the hard calcareous external covering of the mollusca, crustacea, and echinoderms.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. shell

    To throw shells or bombs upon; to bombard; as, to shell a town.

Suggested Resources

  1. shell

    Song lyrics by shell -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by shell on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. SHELL

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Shell is ranked #2696 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Shell surname appeared 13,369 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 5 would have the surname Shell.

    75.1% or 10,049 total occurrences were White.
    18.4% or 2,471 total occurrences were Black.
    2.2% or 294 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    2.1% or 287 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    1.2% or 163 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.7% or 104 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'shell' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4639

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'shell' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4457

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'shell' in Nouns Frequency: #1403

How to pronounce shell?

How to say shell in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of shell in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of shell in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of shell in a Sentence

  1. Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven:

    And in that line now was a whiskered old man, with a linen cap and a crooked nose, who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.

  2. El Moussa:

    Actually, no, I havent talked to her about Heather yet, so, thats probably a talk I should probably have pretty soon. Like, probably today, considering Im talking about her on TV now. Shell probably find out I think? Yeah, I think Ill give her a call.

  3. Isaac Newton:

    I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

  4. Cosan Chairman Rubens Ometto:

    The contractual option that would allow Shell to have 100 percent of Raízen is being undone, when you marry with someone you need to have a way out. That was foreseen in the original contract. But now we already know each other, we are getting along well together, so these protection clauses are no longer necessary.

  5. Machine Gun Kelly:

    I called Megan Fox. I was like, ‘ You are n’t here for me, ’ i ’m in my room, and I ’m like freaking out on Taylor Hill/FilmMagic and, dude, I put the shotgun in my mouth, and I ’m yelling on the phone and like the barrel’s in my mouth. I go to cock the shotgun and the bullet as it comes back up, the shell just gets jammed. Megan’s like dead silent.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for shell

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • صدفةArabic
  • conquilla, consola, clovella, terminal, closca, conxa, bucCatalan, Valencian
  • patrona, ulita, kostra, skořápka, krovka, válec, slupka, stín, šrapnel, krunýř, rezonátor, hlubotiskový, opláštění, lusk, nábojniceCzech
  • shellDanish
  • Eierschale, Schale, Granate, Hülle, Hülse, ShellGerman
  • όστρακο, κέλυφος, κάψα, τύμπανο, κάλυκας, οβίδα, τερματικόGreek
  • ŝelo, konko, karapacoEsperanto
  • concha, cáscara, casquete, terminal, vaina, caparazón, descascarar, desvainar, bombardearSpanish
  • koda, koor, kaun, granaat, kilp, munakoor, karp, kestEstonian
  • صدف, لاک, پوکه, پوستهPersian
  • ammus, kilpi, runko, laidoitus, kuori, kranaatti, komentorivi, varjo, palko, panssari, hylsy, pesä, komentotulkki, kuoriyhtiö, munankuori, törsätä, kuoriutua, pommittaa, kuoriaFinnish
  • skelFaroese
  • coquillage, coquille, cosse, obus, interpréteur de commandes, carapace, douille, coque, carcasse, couche, squelette, décortiquerFrench
  • sliogánIrish
  • cochallScottish Gaelic
  • bleaystManx
  • खोलHindi
  • héj, kagyló, tojáshéj, teknőHungarian
  • պատյան, կճեպ, արկ, խեցիArmenian
  • kulit, tempurung, kerang, cangkang, selongsong, sisik, sayap kerasIndonesian
  • skelIcelandic
  • camicetta, guscio, carapace, placca, mallo, placca ossea, drusa, bossolo, blusa, top, conchiglia, esoscheletro, baccello, geode, granata, ogiva, bombardare, sborsare, sgranare, sgusciareItalian
  • 莢, 殻, 甲羅, 空洞, シェル, 胴, 船体, 卵殻, 籾, 籾殻, 砲弾, 薬莢, 貝殻, 鞘翅, 剥く, 砲撃, 支払うJapanese
  • ნიჟარა, ნაჭუჭიGeorgian
  • SchuelLuxembourgish, Letzeburgesch
  • pāpapa, anga, matā, kota, kōwhā, miriMāori
  • petalaMalay
  • schaal, eierschaal, shell, omhulsel, obus, lier, gebruikersomgeving, schulp, schelp, pellen, kraken, doppen, bombarderen, schillenDutch
  • atsʼaʼNavajo, Navaho
  • powłoka, powłoka walencyjnaPolish
  • casca, vagem, concha, cartuchoPortuguese
  • hephq'ayQuechua
  • cochilie, scoică, carapaceRomanian
  • скорлупа, панцирь, боб, стручок, снаряд, раковина, гильза, оболочка, ракушкаRussian
  • skálžuNorthern Sami
  • шко̑љка, škȏljkaSerbo-Croatian
  • oklep, strok, školjka, lupina, luščinaSlovene
  • skal, shell, kommandotolk, äggskal, skalbolag, fjäll, plåt, tolk, bomba, beskjuta, skala, bombardera, ömsaSwedish
  • กระดองThai
  • kabukTurkish
  • vỏVietnamese
  • 貝殼Chinese

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    either of two different animal or plant species living in close association but not interdependent
    A tenebrous
    B commensal
    C valetudinarian
    D dicotyledonous

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