Definition of shell in English:



  • 1The hard protective outer case of a mollusc or crustacean.

    ‘cowrie shells’
    [mass noun] ‘the technique of carving shell’
    • ‘A little of this can benefit marine life by providing carbonate ions - a vital constituent in the biochemical process by which sea creatures such as corals and molluscs build their shells.’
    • ‘They require no soil and are secured to driftwood, shells or bark (using special glue), capturing nutrients and moisture from the air.’
    • ‘I also use precious materials, like pearl, and other things, like polished shells and seeds.’
    • ‘Seeds, shells, and fresh flowers are woven into necklaces by both sexes.’
    • ‘Mollusc shells are made primarily of calcium carbonate, with traces of strontium and other elements.’
    • ‘Boulders are infested with black tree corals, mussels, cowrie shells, soft and hard corals and ascidians.’
    • ‘Polysaccharides are also used in the shells of such crustaceans as crabs and lobsters (chitin).’
    • ‘In addition to fragments of at least four tripod cauldrons, the tomb also yielded a number of marine shells and two possible animal bone fragments.’
    • ‘However, people severely allergic to shellfish should avoid glucosamine, which is made from the shells of crustaceans.’
    • ‘The fossiliferous horizons occur in greenish to greyish siltstones and brown to black fissile shales associated with mollusc shells.’
    • ‘On top of them put some natural objects such as shells, pebbles, leaves, fruit, flowers or plants or bonsai (not dead or artificial).’
    • ‘The primitive man initially used berries, nuts, seeds, feathers, perforated stones, teeth, and shells as ornaments.’
    • ‘To play the game, there are a variety of options, tamarind seeds, cowrie shells, beads, even small stones as affordability waxes and wanes.’
    • ‘Marine invertebrates with hard shells and skeletons of chitin or lime are more conducive to fossil preservation than soft-bodied creatures.’
    • ‘Instead of the usual facepiece made of mesh and covered with cowry shells, this one is made from a radiator grid and covered with sparkplugs.’
    • ‘They are cousins of seashells, but instead of having a protective shell, most of them are poisonous.’
    • ‘The beach sands are dominated by shells of bivalve mollusks, mainly venerids, gastropods, and echinoderms.’
    • ‘Her range of styles is unified by her use of shells, seeds and feathers.’
    • ‘Another theory is that because ammonoids grew faster and had thinner shells, the shells were not as strong as those of the nautilus.’
    • ‘We sat there for perhaps half an hour, watching the yachts go sailing by, collecting hundreds of the perfect unbroken shells to fill jars for my bathroom window ledge.’
    carapace, outside, exterior
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1The thin outer covering of an animal's egg, which is hard and fragile in that of a bird but leathery in that of a reptile.
      • ‘Twelve weeks after they are laid, the hatchling turtles emerge from their shells and make for the sea.’
      • ‘She considered a moment and transferred the animal from the shell to her hand.’
      • ‘As the birds accumulated the toxins in their fat reserves, the shells in their clutches thinned and broke easily, or never hatched.’
      • ‘The ground was dug up and strewn with white, leathery shells - remnants of about ten eggs, near as I could tell.’
      • ‘This one hatched faster than the first, fierce little claws punching through the fragile shell and scrabbling to get free.’
      • ‘The fact that the age of many B. rosea shells exceeds 200 years is unexpected given the widely stated fragility of brachiopod shells.’
      • ‘DDT does not directly kill birds but rather thins the shells of their eggs.’
      • ‘On the twenty-first day, the chick, now fully developed, starts to break through his thin shell.’
      • ‘The female will lay only 4 to 10 eggs, which have leathery shells.’
    2. 1.2The outer case of a nut kernel or seed.
      ‘peanuts roasted in their shells’
      • ‘They must be taken from the vines while the outer shell and the seeds are very tender; otherwise they are not good.’
      • ‘Some of you may wonder how locals manage to work the edible kernel from its black shell within seconds, while holding a conversation.’
      • ‘Typical food processing jobs include peeling nutmeg shells and sorting the seeds, and washing bananas and other produce.’
      • ‘The seed is only toxic if the outer shell is broken or chewed open.’
      • ‘They are harvested when fully ripe, the shells and seeds are removed, and the pulp compressed into ‘cakes’.’
      • ‘Crack a handful of whole new season's walnuts, remove the kernels from the shells and halve them and quarter.’
      • ‘This is one of my favorite birds, and they love to eat nuts of any sort in or out of the shell as well as mealworms, sunflower seeds, suet and pumpkin seeds.’
      • ‘Remove the shell of the seeds and cut chicken into small cubes.’
      • ‘For those who have never eaten hemp seeds, the shells catch on the back of your tongue, a bit like the wings on dry-roasted crickets.’
      pod, casing, case, husk, hull
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3The carapace of a tortoise, turtle, or terrapin.
      • ‘Dragging his shell along, the turtle continues his journey.’
      • ‘Sea turtles with shells the size of manhole covers sun themselves on the beach.’
      • ‘They can withdraw from the broader culture, like a turtle under its shell.’
      • ‘Down the hall are turtle shells bearing primitive scratchings that later evolved into the elegant calligraphy you'll find one floor up.’
      • ‘It's common to see bite marks on their shells which are made out of Keratin, like your fingernail.’
      • ‘The newest types of tags are attached to things like shark fins and sea turtle shells.’
      • ‘Many of the souvenir shop owners, however, said that their wares were old stock and that they no longer produced souvenirs made of sea turtle shells.’
      • ‘The hard carapace or upper shell of some sea turtles acts as a protection from predators.’
      • ‘The strange tortoise's shell is flat underneath and not rounded at the belly as usual, he says.’
      • ‘If a turtle lost his shell, is he homeless, naked, or both?’
      • ‘All three of these taxa exhibit fully developed turtle shells.’
      • ‘The bushy head vanished under the cape, like a tortoise withdrawing into its shell.’
      • ‘Jewelry is made from black coral and turtle shells.’
      • ‘These three main patterns are amplified by turtle shells, claves, timbales, bongos, congas, maracas and tambourines.’
      • ‘My instinct was to crouch down and get as small as I could, like a turtle in his shell.’
      • ‘Their teeth, which cut in both directions, are like razor blades, perfectly evolved for cutting through turtle shells and bone.’
      • ‘Turtle shells are constructed with a layer of epidermal scutes overlying a layer of dermal bone.’
      • ‘Its instruments include maracas, drums, and turtle shells.’
      • ‘Thankfully the fire crew didn't need to use their cutting equipment and managed to coax the tortoise out of his shell by poking around inside.’
      • ‘We'd stroke her feet and drum our fingers gently on her shell (the tortoise equivalent of a jockey's crop).’
    4. 1.4The wing cases of a beetle.
      • ‘For over 30 years he has been studying the shells of beetles that have been preserved for thousands, even millions of years.’
      • ‘There were large piles of insect parts being piled up outside the nest, beetle shells, a bee head, dead ants.’
      • ‘My uncle drives a sleek black sports car, shiny as a beetle's shell.’
      • ‘The best performer was chitosan - derived from chitin, the main component of crab and beetle shells.’
      • ‘I peer into a stand of smoking hot woks, thinking I still have room for more, then suddenly I make out the crystallised wings and shells of dragonflies and beetles.’
    5. 1.5The integument of an insect pupa or chrysalis.
      • ‘White cobwebs hung from one corner of the shop, the occupant long since dead, molt shells from various insects scattered across the floor.’
      • ‘But she apologised for an omission by the assistant director who failed to disclose the discovery of pupa shells in public pools.’
      • ‘When maggots have completed their development they convert their last larval skin into a puparium, a hardened shell within which the pupa develops.’
      • ‘Cheung, who said water in swimming pools was not suitable for the growth of the worms, said bloodworms with pupa shells were available to buy in Hong Kong.’
      • ‘The last floor has a wide variety of insects, shells, and worms.’
    6. 1.6Used with reference to a state of shyness or introversion.
      ‘she'll soon come out of her shell with the right encouragement’
      • ‘She's going to break out of her shell to figure out who she really is.’
  • 2An explosive artillery projectile or bomb.

    ‘the sound of the shell passing over, followed by the explosion’
    [as modifier] ‘shell holes’
    • ‘Chemical agents can be delivered in artillery shells or missiles, by aerial bombing, or by spraying.’
    • ‘The Marines are out every day looking for the enemy, and trying to round up the old artillery shells used to make the deadly car bombs.’
    • ‘There was the now-familiar sound of the artillery shells landing among the enemy positions.’
    • ‘The first wave of troops crossed the bridge, and soon the air on the far side was thick with ordnance - artillery shells, mortars, bullets.’
    • ‘Nuclear warheads for a variety of tactical missiles, artillery shells, torpedoes, and other munitions also proliferated.’
    • ‘In the war in Eastern Europe, the harsh climate competed successfully with artillery shells and bullets in killing people.’
    • ‘The thunder off in the distance sounded like artillery shells booming over the Verdugo Mountains.’
    • ‘They provide the explosive force delivered by hand grenades, bombs, and artillery shells.’
    • ‘Now we once again need to protect our dugouts and shelters, especially at command and control facilities, from direct hits of artillery shells and air bombs.’
    • ‘At least 400 to 500 persons were at the scene of the church this morning when the mortar shells fell on the building of the church.’
    • ‘Four streamers of artillery shells blew holes in the plain, and the infantrymen rushed towards them as they cooled, hiding in the holes that sheltered them from the gunfire.’
    • ‘Seconds later, an enemy shell hit the spot where Victor had been standing and burst, killing everyone on that side of the bridge.’
    • ‘Included were artillery shells, phosphorous flares, mortars, incendiaries and cluster bombs.’
    • ‘I began to hear the familiar sound of artillery shells raining terror in the distance.’
    • ‘The soldiers found sarin gas in an artillery shell that exploded while bomb disposal experts were diffusing it.’
    • ‘My medical training exposed me to what a mine, a bullet, a grenade, an artillery shell or poisonous gas could do to a body.’
    • ‘As she crossed the fields a shell exploded close to her, fracturing her legs and knocking her to the ground.’
    • ‘Hollywood prefers lots of flames when grenades or artillery shells go off.’
    • ‘Before 1914 artillery shells had consisted mainly of shrapnel, whose airbursts were effective in mobile warfare.’
    • ‘It could also come suddenly and violently from the tooth-and-nail struggle for survival, or from German bombs and artillery shells.’
    projectile, bomb
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A hollow metal or paper case used as a container for fireworks, explosives, or cartridges.
      • ‘Exploding shells - initially hollow metal spheres filled with gunpowder - were first introduced in the second half of the 16th century.’
      • ‘This will be cabled through this to a network system of modules that are then wired into the fireworks shells.’
      • ‘The shotgun shell box is heartwarming to anyone who has shot paper shells; the old time styling looks good on the desk and in the shooting bag.’
      • ‘Fiocchi paper shells will be available in early spring in 12-gauge trap, sporting clays and skeet loads.’
      • ‘Some shells contain explosives designed to crackle in the sky, or whistles that explode outward with the stars.’
      • ‘The shells contain silver iodide, explosives and gunpowder.’
      • ‘Simple shells consist of a paper tube filled with stars and black powder.’
      • ‘Its shells contain fuel-air explosives that on detonation form a ball of fire, creating a powerful blast effect.’
    2. 2.2North American A cartridge.
      • ‘He shouted as he darted around and blasted several rounds of hot shells into the darkness, but suddenly, Saints took this chance and began firing.’
      • ‘On the other hand, I have heard good-old-boys call rifle and handgun rounds shells.’
      • ‘We carried semi-automatic rifles and shotguns with hollow point shells designed to pierce a boarder's hull right below the water line.’
  • 3Something resembling or likened to a shell because of its shape or its function as an outer case.

    ‘pasta shells’
    ‘baked pastry shells filled with cheese’
    • ‘Instead of stuffing pasta shells with cheese, use tofu or even soy cheese.’
    • ‘Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake at 350F for 12 minutes to set the yolks and kill any salmonella in the eggs.’
    • ‘Pour this mixture into your pastry shell and place back into the oven for a further half an hour.’
    • ‘Fill the shell with batter and pour into the hot oil to make jalebis.’
    • ‘Of the latter I sampled Baked Tortellini Vegetariana, a mixture of pasta shells, spinach, egg, cream and white cheese.’
    • ‘Place the mixed ingredients into the pie shell and cover with pastry.’
    • ‘A hockey helmet consists of a shell, a foam lining and an optional face shield, cage, or combination visor and cage.’
    • ‘Prepare the pastry shell to bake blind - line with a piece of greaseproof or parchment paper and fill with beans.’
    • ‘When they were cool, I melted 40 g of Valrhona baking chocolate in the microwave and glazed the shells using a pastry brush.’
    • ‘With its fresh, cheese-stuffed pasta shells drizzled with a sauce that is rich but not overpowering, these miniature crescents are very tasty indeed.’
    • ‘Cut out a piece of greaseproof or parchment paper to put into the pastry shell and fill with beans (any old beans, rice or pasta).’
    • ‘The pastry shell (one inch deep) is baked in an oven at 180°C for 10 minutes.’
    • ‘Fred runs and gets some pasta shells and cheese to feed his drivers from the officers' tent where the major has already begun to tend to the wounded.’
    • ‘A godsend is that the pastry shell does not need to be pre-baked.’
    • ‘I had set to the task of making approximately 350 small choux pastry shells.’
    • ‘Using pastry bags, fill bottom half of shell with sweet potato mousse, fill top half of shell with parsnip pastry cream and top with chocolate glaze.’
    • ‘He knew he wouldn't survive long before he crawled back to his cassette collection, central heating, and ready-to-eat pasta shells in spicy tomato sauce.’
    • ‘Put into the tart shell, and bake at 100C for an hour.’
    • ‘Quesadillas are good too, made with one of those big flour shells lined with meat or veggies and cheese, and flattened in the press.’
    • ‘Pour mixture into the tart shell and bake at 150C for 25-30 mins or until filling is set.’
    1. 3.1The walls of an unfinished or gutted building or other structure.
      ‘the hotel was a shell, the roof having collapsed completely’
      • ‘The building was a shell with the roof having fallen in and walls caving in.’
      • ‘I turned in her direction, and behind her, through the doorframe of a burned-out shell of a building, I saw them.’
      • ‘Only the shells of the original building still stand.’
      • ‘Now the government buildings are burned-out shells.’
      • ‘In the centre of the castle stands an empty shell of a building.’
      • ‘It is contractor for the building shell at a cost of $951,000.’
      • ‘The shell of the building could then be completed (if funds come in) within 12 months.’
      • ‘Situated in Leicester Square, in the shell of the collapsed superclub Home, the new Marquee couldn't appear more different from the original.’
      • ‘Now, a bare shell of a building is all that remains.’
      • ‘The beauty of remodeling a garage is that the shell of the building - often with both electricity and plumbing - already exists.’
      • ‘The building is a mere shell - cement-block walls, tin roof, benches inside, bare floor.’
      • ‘The buildings are shells with walls covered in mildew and grass growing through the floors as high as the ceilings.’
      • ‘To my right were buildings with their first floors torn apart or gutted by fire, but the shells of the buildings still stood.’
      • ‘If driving gets dull, you can always get out of the car and run around town a little, though most of the buildings are just shells and can't be entered.’
      • ‘The shell of the building will now be preserved and redeveloped under a previous approval into five shops and 12 offices.’
      • ‘Speaking this week local councillor Robert Cormack said the Grade II listed house was now a shell and a large west window had been blown in.’
      • ‘Several Union attacks had turned the once towering buildings to empty shells, not fit to live in.’
      • ‘The charred shell of this once-fine building has for too long been a blot on the landscape, holding back the regeneration of the streets around it.’
      • ‘In this ‘ruined town with its shells of buildings half-visible through the drifting smoke’, he set about organizing the evacuation of his men.’
      • ‘But last night only the burned-out shell of the building was left.’
    2. 3.2An outer form without substance.
      ‘he was a shell of the man he had been previously’
      • ‘It is a nursery of humanity that cares for blending values with education, moulds character with learning and supplies substance to the shell of symbols.’
      • ‘He felt like an empty shell, without substance or energy.’
      • ‘Soon she would be dead, the empty shell of her body to be left crumpled in the dirt.’
      • ‘It is a living, dynamic process which must be worked at by you yourself - or it ceases to be democracy, even if the shell and form remains.’
      • ‘He sucked out their very essence, and they died instantly, leaving just empty shells of bodies behind.’
  • 4The metal framework of a vehicle body.

    • ‘As they closed a hatch, a dozen of men appeared on the platform, but their blasters could not do any harm to the metal shell of the vehicle.’
    • ‘Doyle approached a cop who had examined the charred shell of the limo and asked him what might have happened.’
    • ‘There's also reasonable boot space inside the compact shell.’
    • ‘Dennis pushed open the heavy hatch and crawled up onto the rough shell of the armored vehicle.’
    • ‘Massive coils of finished steel, ready to be turned into the shells of automobiles at Ford's facilities, were showing up without notice.’
    • ‘Fuel cell vehicles were everywhere, some exotic and others covered with unobtrusive shells that could have just rolled off a production line.’
    • ‘Even when the shell of a vehicle already exists, as it did in this case, the vehicle-design schedule traditionally spans about three years.’
    • ‘We passed several more smoking shells of vehicles destroyed by the resistance - more fuel tankers, more blasted APCs.’
    • ‘He turned, motioning toward Lady Grey who waited a few feet away, leaning against the battered shell of a rusted vehicle.’
    • ‘And also because, beneath its subtle shell, the car seems built to withstand impact from a meteor the size of Scotland.’
    • ‘Some of this handling panache is a by-product of the roll cage, which is installed while the car is still a bare shell.’
    • ‘Ferner's boat, for instance, uses the shell of a Volkswagen station wagon for a cabin.’
    framework, frame, chassis, skeleton, basic structure
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1A light racing boat.
      • ‘Rowing equipment is costly - an eight man sweeping boat, the largest of rowing shells, runs in around $28,000.’
      • ‘The attic has been used as a spot to store rowing shells and equipment since 1989.’
      • ‘The Italian boatbuilder was founded in 1980 and has since anchored a spot in the market of top quality racing shells.’
      • ‘The classic built-for-speed vessel is the racing shell because its human cargo is also its engine.’
      • ‘As I row in my racing shell, I flash back to Muller's words.’
      • ‘The glow from the rising sun reflects off the sleek rowing shells as they glide on the Mississippi River.’
    2. 4.2An inner or roughly made coffin.
    3. 4.3The hand guard of a sword.
  • 5Physics
    Each of a set of orbitals around the nucleus of an atom, occupied or able to be occupied by electrons of similar energies.

    ‘in a multi-electron atom, the lowest energy shells fill up first’
    ‘an electron descending from one shell to a lower one emits an X-ray’
    • ‘The higher the atomic number, the more shells and electrons an atom will have.’
    • ‘Since it takes eight electrons to fill the electron shell, a silicon atom is continually looking for four electrons to bond with.’
    • ‘Nuclei with full shells of protons, neutrons, or both are said to have magic numbers and, if unexcited, are usually spherical.’
    • ‘Around each atomic nucleus, electrons occupy energy levels termed shells.’
    • ‘At this time, the maximum number of electron orbitals or electron shells for any element is seven.’
  • 6Computing

    short for shell program
    • ‘All UNIX / Linux shells support output redirection using the same syntax.’
    • ‘To be truly productive with Linux, you need to thoroughly master the shells and the command line.’
    • ‘By expanding the ping hack in the source code, a custom firmware image can be created with the full power of a Linux shell over the Web interface.’
    • ‘On the write-in side, a collection of text editors and shells claimed most of the votes.’
    • ‘Thus far, you have an FTP client and a shell busily tidying up your home directory.’


  • 1Bombard with shells.

    ‘several villages north of the security zone were shelled’
    • ‘At the siege of Metz in 1944, during the liberation of France, for example, heavy coast artillery pieces and field guns shelled the fortresses there.’
    • ‘In 1918, the gun shelled Paris from a distance of 110 kilometers away.’
    • ‘We had no more desire to be shelled by Allied than by German guns.’
    • ‘They were also continuously shelled by 82 mm mortars.’
    • ‘Before being relived by the 94th Infantry later that day, the 5th Ranger Battalion was shelled one more time with some casualties taken.’
    • ‘At the height of the battle on the Western Front during World War 1, the Germans shelled Allied front line positions at the rate of 3000 per hour.’
    • ‘In the heat of battle no gunnery officer had the time to consult a table before aiming at an incoming bomber or shelling an enemy position.’
    • ‘But Sydney harbour, in New South Wales, was attacked by midget submarines and further north Newcastle was shelled by their bigger brethren, although with few casualties.’
    • ‘Almost 200,000 men working more than 5,000 ships of all kinds shelled the beaches and transported five divisions to designated landing sites.’
    • ‘This prevented another bombardment of Henderson Field by the Japanese battleships, but that night their cruisers shelled it heavily.’
    • ‘One of 1,500 Canadians who lost their lives in the Falaise Gap, Steele died instantly when his tank was shelled by the Germans.’
    • ‘The time of flight of a bomb is longer than that of a shell and mortar fire is therefore subject to greater meteorological variation, making it less accurate than shelling by guns or howitzers and less likely to hit a moving target.’
    • ‘He saw hundreds upon hundreds of ships moving toward the coast of France and when he approached the target area, he could see their big Naval guns shelling the coast.’
    • ‘But they knew our gun positions and they shelled us as they drew nearer.’
    • ‘The tanks, their allies, which had almost turned on them, spilled their fire and shelled positions beyond the thin clump of woodland.’
    • ‘We have as much right to shell the enemy army's central headquarters as to shell its frontline positions.’
    • ‘Hospitals have been shelled and assaulted by gun fire and rockets.’
    • ‘Four ships, two of them Clyde-built, were shelled heavily by communist forces during the episode, and 45 Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel were killed.’
    • ‘US marines used amphibious assault vehicles to surround clusters of low, crude concrete buildings and shell nearby tanks.’
    • ‘He would not have remained in the city even if the story that his own men were spreading were true, that a half-dozen assassins possibly capable of shelling the Soviet Embassy were in the vicinity.’
    bombard, fire on, open fire on, shoot at, attack, pound, bomb, blitz, strafe
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Baseball Score heavily against (an opposing pitcher or team)
      ‘Williams got shelled in the next inning’
      • ‘He was a huge disappointment this year, getting shelled this spring and then at AAA.’
      • ‘It is no more a sign of weakness to change leadership in wartime if success depends on it than it is to remove a baseball pitcher who is getting shelled in order to prevent the game from becoming hopelessly lost.’
      • ‘He was shelled in his final outing, lasting less than two innings, then missed the play-offs with a freak knee injury.’
      • ‘The right-hander was desperately trying to figure out why he was constantly being shelled last season.’
      • ‘Tonight, against a team that got shelled 7-1 last night, they come out flat, give up two goals in 2 minutes and then proceed to do NOTHING for a whole game.’
  • 2Remove the shell or pod from (a nut or seed)

    ‘they were shelling peas’
    ‘shelled Brazil nuts’
    • ‘Then some students had to stop shelling peanuts for a while to experience what it feels like to not have food security.’
    • ‘Why, even while watching television he shells walnuts.’
    • ‘My first memories are of sitting in the kitchen shelling peas and listening to my great-grandmother telling stories.’
    • ‘Peas, I suppose, are not a fruit within the meaning of the act, but sitting on the back doorstep in the cool of the evening, shelling peas into a basin, was one of the small delights of summer.’
    • ‘The cells similarly fire when the monkeys observe a person shelling peanuts and then hear peanut shells being broken apart.’
    • ‘I had once wondered how pistachio things got their pistachio flavor - it seemed unlikely that it was from grinding shelled pistachios - and a brief research led me to pistachio paste.’
    • ‘Seeds were shelled, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and stored at - 80°C.’
    • ‘But tonight, I had shelled hazelnuts with raisins.’
    • ‘I have witnessed expats shelling seeds with ease so, although I can't speak from experience, I know that it can be done.’
    • ‘Substitute shelled pistachios for nuts in any recipe you fancy.’
    • ‘Like him, I sat for ages removing all those fiddly little stalks, or shelling peas and beans.’
    • ‘But one day, two years after his wedding, while lounging in a deckchair, shelling peanuts on an October afternoon, Sharma was startled by a premonition.’
    • ‘A small girl has been helping the maid with some such task as shelling peas in an outhouse, since as they emerge hand-in-hand the child carries the pods or husks in her apron.’
    • ‘Most of the trulli are still people's homes - as evidenced by the women shelling peas on the front stoops.’
    • ‘When choosing shelled pecans, look for plump, not wrinkled ones.’
    • ‘Green nuts are shelled, boiled to mellow the flavour, and sun dried.’
    • ‘If you must reach for high-fat snacks, pick ones that require a little legwork, such as shelled peanuts or air-popped popcorn you have to make yourself.’
    • ‘Mama Emmy kept shelling peas, but her attention was on her granddaughter.’
    • ‘He approaches the task with the same zest with which he shelled the pistachios that came with the pre-lunch beers.’
    • ‘Because lipomas generally do not infiltrate into surrounding tissue, they can be shelled out easily during excision.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • shell something out

    • Pay (a specified amount of money, especially one regarded as excessive)

      ‘he has had to shell out £500 a week hiring a bodyguard’
      ‘she ended up shelling out for two rooms’
      • ‘Reading only the advertisements, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a magazine aimed at home buyers - about 80% of the advertising revenue has been shelled out by builders.’
      • ‘At the top level, thousands of pounds are shelled out by ambitious team owners to ensure the right outcome of a match.’
      • ‘The government claims it paid more than $200 million for this project five years ago, but a recent government audit shows tax dollars were shelled out for work that was never done.’
      make payment, pay, settle up, pay in full, meet one's obligations, come up with the money
      View synonyms


Old English scell (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schel scale, shell, also to scale. The verb dates from the mid 16th century in shell.