AskDefine | Define shell

Dictionary Definition



1 ammunition consisting of a cylindrical metal casing containing an explosive charge and a projectile; fired from a large gun
2 the material that forms the hard outer covering of many animals
3 hard outer covering or case of certain organisms such as arthropods and turtles [syn: carapace, cuticle]
4 the hard usually fibrous outer layer of some fruits especially nuts
5 the exterior covering of a bird's egg [syn: eggshell]
6 a rigid covering that envelops an object; "the satellite is covered with a smooth shell of ice"
7 a very light narrow racing boat [syn: racing shell]
8 the housing or outer covering of something; "the clock has a walnut case" [syn: case, casing]
9 a metal sheathing of uniform thickness (such as the shield attached to an artillery piece to protect the gunners) [syn: plate, scale]
10 the hard largely calcareous covering of a mollusc


1 use explosives on; "The enemy has been shelling us all day" [syn: blast]
2 fall out of the pod or husk; "The corn shelled"
3 hit the pitches of hard and regularly; "He shelled the pitcher for eight runs in the first inning"
4 look for and collect shells by the seashore
5 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" [syn: beat, beat out, crush, trounce, vanquish]
6 remove from its shell or outer covering; "shell the legumes"; "shell mussels"
7 remove the husks from; "husk corn" [syn: husk]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • shĕl, /ʃɛl/, /SEl/
    Rhymes: -ɛl


  1. A hard outside covering, as of a fruit or an animal:
  2. Hence, by extension, any mollusks having such a covering.
  3. (plural: shell) An artillery projectile or charge case:
  4. Any slight hollow structure; a framework, or exterior structure, regarded as not complete or filled in; as, the shell of a house.
  5. (garment) A top, usually worn by women, with short or no sleeves that fastens, if it does, in the rear.
  6. A coarse kind of coffin; also, a thin interior coffin inclosed in a more substantial one.
  7. An instrument of music, as a lyre, -- the first lyre having been made, it is said, by drawing strings over a tortoise shell.
  8. An engraved copper roller used in print works.
  9. The outer frame or case of a block within which the sheaves revolve.
  10. A light boat the frame of which is covered with thin wood or with paper; as, a racing shell.
  11. A drum shell; the usually wooden, cylindrical acoustic chamber, with or without rims added for tuning and attaching drum heads.
  12. A general-purpose environment, usually command-line-oriented, within which other commands are invoked and their interactions controlled.
  13. In the context of "chemistry": A set of atomic orbitals that have the same principal quantum number.


hard outside covering, as of a fruit or an animal
covering, or outside part, of a nut
A pod
The hard covering of an egg
The hard calcareous or chitinous external covering of mollusks, crustaceans, and some other invertebrates
Hence, by extension, any mollusks having such a covering
A hollow projectile
The case which holds the powder, or charge of powder
Any slight hollow structure; a framework, or exterior structure
A coarse kind of coffin
An instrument of music, as a lyre
An engraved copper roller
The husks of cacao seeds
The outer frame or case of a block within which the sheaves revolve
A light boat the frame of which is covered with thin wood or with paper; as, a racing shell
A drum shell; the usually wooden, cylindrical acoustic chamber
A general-purpose environment; usually CLI-oriented


  1. To remove the outer covering or shell of something. See sheller.
  2. To bombard, to fire projectiles at.
  3. To disburse or give up money, to pay. (Often used with out).


to remove the outer covering or shell of something
to bombard, to fire projectiles at


Extensive Definition

Shell may refer to
  • Animal shell, including those of molluscs, turtles, and insects
  • Seashell, the shells of marine animals, especially molluscs
  • Eggshell, the outer covering of a hard-shelled egg
Any more or less hollow surface covering, including:
In science and mathematics:
In computing
  • Shell (computing), a type of computer user interface (for example a Unix or a DOS shell)
  • Shell account, a personal account that gives a user access to a Unix shell on another machine, usually through SSH
  • Shell sort, a sorting algorithm
In business
  • Shell, Ecuador, sometimes called Shell Mera, a city named after the Shell Oil Company
In media and entertainment:
As a surname:
shell in German: Hülle
shell in Spanish: Shell
shell in French: Shell
shell in Italian: Shell
shell in Dutch: shell
shell in Japanese: シェル (曖昧さ回避)
shell in Polish: Muszla (ujednoznacznienie)
shell in Russian: Оболочка
shell in Serbian: Шел

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Eustachian tube, L, R, acting area, aim at, alveolation, alveolus, ante up, antrum, anvil, apron, apron stage, armadillo shell, armature, armor, armor plate, armpit, atom, atomic model, attack, auditory apparatus, auditory canal, auditory meatus, auditory nerve, auditory ossicles, auditory tube, auricle, backstage, ball, ball cartridge, band shell, bandstand, bar shot, bark, barrage, basilar membrane, basin, bird shot, blank cartridge, blast, blitz, board, body armor, bomb, bombard, bony labyrinth, border, bowl, bran, bridge, buckler, buckshot, bullet, bulletproof vest, cadre, cannon, cannon shot, cannonade, cannonball, capsule, cartouche, cartridge, case, case shot, casement, casing, cauliflower ear, cavity, chaff, chain armor, chain mail, chassis, chitin, chiton, circumference, clam shell, coat of mail, cochlea, cockleshell, cocoa shell, commence firing, concave, concavity, conch, concha, corn shuck, cornhusk, cortex, coulisse, covering, cowrie, crater, crossbar shot, crust, crypt, cup, decorticate, depression, dip, disburse, dish out, dock, doorframe, dressing room, drumhead, duck shot, dumdum bullet, ear, ear lobe, eardrum, eggshell, elytron, endolymph, enfilade, envelope, epidermis, episperm, eschar, excorticate, expanding bullet, expend, exterior, external, external ear, externals, fabric, facade, face, facet, fire a volley, fire at, fire upon, flies, fly floor, fly gallery, fold, follicle, forestage, fork out, frame, framework, framing, fringe, front, funnel chest, fusillade, give out, grape, grapeshot, greenroom, grid, gridiron, habergeon, hammer, hand out, hand over, harness, hauberk, hole, hollow, hollow shell, hull, husk, incrustation, incus, inner ear, integument, ion, jacket, lacuna, langrel shot, lattice, latticework, lay out, lightboard, limpet, lineaments, lobe, lobule, lorica, lorication, lug, mail, malleus, manstopping bullet, mastoid process, middle ear, mortar, needles, nuclear atom, nuclide, nutshell, open fire, open up on, orchestra, orchestra pit, organ of Corti, outer ear, outer face, outer layer, outer side, outer skin, outline, outside, oval window, oyster shell, palea, panoply, pastry shell, pay out, peel, pellet, pepper, performing area, pericarp, perilymph, periphery, periwinkle, picture frame, piecrust, pinna, pit, planetary shell, plate, plate armor, pocket, pod, pop at, projectile, proscenium, proscenium stage, protective covering, punch bowl, rake, rifle ball, rind, round shot, round window, sash, scab, scale, scallop, scoop, scute, scutum, sea shell, secondary eardrum, semicircular canals, shell out, shield, shoot, shoot at, shot, shrapnel, shuck, sink, sinus, skeleton, skin, slough, slug, snipe, snipe at, socket, spend, spines, split shot, stage, stage left, stage right, stalactite, stalagmite, stapes, stirrup, strafe, subshell, suit of armor, superficies, superstratum, surface, switchboard, tagged atom, take aim at, test, testa, the boards, thick skin, top, torpedo, tracer, tracer atom, trough, tympanic cavity, tympanic membrane, tympanum, valence shell, vestibule, vug, whelk, window case, window frame, wings, winkle, zero in on
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