Definition of shell in English:



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

    ‘cowrie shells’
    mass noun ‘the technique of carving shell’
    • ‘Her range of styles is unified by her use of shells, seeds and feathers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Marine invertebrates with hard shells and skeletons of chitin or lime are more conducive to fossil preservation than soft-bodied creatures.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Another theory is that because ammonoids grew faster and had thinner shells, the shells were not as strong as those of the nautilus.’
    • ‘However, people severely allergic to shellfish should avoid glucosamine, which is made from the shells of crustaceans.’
    • ‘Polysaccharides are also used in the shells of such crustaceans as crabs and lobsters (chitin).’
    • ‘On top of them put some natural objects such as shells, pebbles, leaves, fruit, flowers or plants or bonsai (not dead or artificial).’
    • ‘I also use precious materials, like pearl, and other things, like polished shells and seeds.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Boulders are infested with black tree corals, mussels, cowrie shells, soft and hard corals and ascidians.’
    • ‘The beach sands are dominated by shells of bivalve mollusks, mainly venerids, gastropods, and echinoderms.’
    • ‘They are cousins of seashells, but instead of having a protective shell, most of them are poisonous.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The primitive man initially used berries, nuts, seeds, feathers, perforated stones, teeth, and shells as ornaments.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To play the game, there are a variety of options, tamarind seeds, cowrie shells, beads, even small stones as affordability waxes and wanes.’
    • ‘The fossiliferous horizons occur in greenish to greyish siltstones and brown to black fissile shales associated with mollusc shells.’
    • ‘They require no soil and are secured to driftwood, shells or bark (using special glue), capturing nutrients and moisture from the air.’
    carapace, outside, exterior
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The 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.
      • ‘On the twenty-first day, the chick, now fully developed, starts to break through his thin shell.’
      • ‘DDT does not directly kill birds but rather thins the shells of their eggs.’
      • ‘The fact that the age of many B. rosea shells exceeds 200 years is unexpected given the widely stated fragility of brachiopod shells.’
      • ‘This one hatched faster than the first, fierce little claws punching through the fragile shell and scrabbling to get free.’
      • ‘The female will lay only 4 to 10 eggs, which have leathery shells.’
      • ‘The ground was dug up and strewn with white, leathery shells - remnants of about ten eggs, near as I could tell.’
      • ‘She considered a moment and transferred the animal from the shell to her hand.’
      • ‘Twelve weeks after they are laid, the hatchling turtles emerge from their shells and make for the sea.’
      • ‘As the birds accumulated the toxins in their fat reserves, the shells in their clutches thinned and broke easily, or never hatched.’
    2. 1.2 The 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’.’
      • ‘Some of you may wonder how locals manage to work the edible kernel from its black shell within seconds, while holding a conversation.’
      • ‘Crack a handful of whole new season's walnuts, remove the kernels from the shells and halve them and quarter.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Remove the shell of the seeds and cut chicken into small cubes.’
      pod, casing, case, husk, hull
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 The carapace of a tortoise, turtle, or terrapin.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If a turtle lost his shell, is he homeless, naked, or both?’
      • ‘All three of these taxa exhibit fully developed turtle shells.’
      • ‘The strange tortoise's shell is flat underneath and not rounded at the belly as usual, he says.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The bushy head vanished under the cape, like a tortoise withdrawing into its shell.’
      • ‘We'd stroke her feet and drum our fingers gently on her shell (the tortoise equivalent of a jockey's crop).’
      • ‘Turtle shells are constructed with a layer of epidermal scutes overlying a layer of dermal bone.’
      • ‘Sea turtles with shells the size of manhole covers sun themselves on the beach.’
      • ‘The hard carapace or upper shell of some sea turtles acts as a protection from predators.’
      • ‘Its instruments include maracas, drums, and turtle shells.’
      • ‘It's common to see bite marks on their shells which are made out of Keratin, like your fingernail.’
      • ‘Down the hall are turtle shells bearing primitive scratchings that later evolved into the elegant calligraphy you'll find one floor up.’
      • ‘The newest types of tags are attached to things like shark fins and sea turtle shells.’
      • ‘Their teeth, which cut in both directions, are like razor blades, perfectly evolved for cutting through turtle shells and bone.’
      • ‘They can withdraw from the broader culture, like a turtle under its shell.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dragging his shell along, the turtle continues his journey.’
    4. 1.4 The 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My uncle drives a sleek black sports car, shiny as a beetle's shell.’
    5. 1.5 The integument of an insect pupa or chrysalis.
      • ‘But she apologised for an omission by the assistant director who failed to disclose the discovery of pupa shells in public pools.’
      • ‘White cobwebs hung from one corner of the shop, the occupant long since dead, molt shells from various insects scattered across the floor.’
      • ‘The last floor has a wide variety of insects, shells, and worms.’
      • ‘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.’
    6. 1.6one's shell Used 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Nuclear warheads for a variety of tactical missiles, artillery shells, torpedoes, and other munitions also proliferated.’
    • ‘The first wave of troops crossed the bridge, and soon the air on the far side was thick with ordnance - artillery shells, mortars, bullets.’
    • ‘Hollywood prefers lots of flames when grenades or artillery shells go off.’
    • ‘As she crossed the fields a shell exploded close to her, fracturing her legs and knocking her to the ground.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The thunder off in the distance sounded like artillery shells booming over the Verdugo Mountains.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Before 1914 artillery shells had consisted mainly of shrapnel, whose airbursts were effective in mobile warfare.’
    • ‘They provide the explosive force delivered by hand grenades, bombs, and artillery shells.’
    • ‘It could also come suddenly and violently from the tooth-and-nail struggle for survival, or from German bombs and artillery shells.’
    • ‘Included were artillery shells, phosphorous flares, mortars, incendiaries and cluster bombs.’
    • ‘Seconds later, an enemy shell hit the spot where Victor had been standing and burst, killing everyone on that side of the bridge.’
    • ‘Chemical agents can be delivered in artillery shells or missiles, by aerial bombing, or by spraying.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the war in Eastern Europe, the harsh climate competed successfully with artillery shells and bullets in killing people.’
    • ‘My medical training exposed me to what a mine, a bullet, a grenade, an artillery shell or poisonous gas could do to a body.’
    projectile, bomb
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A hollow metal or paper case used as a container for fireworks, explosives, or cartridges.
      • ‘Some shells contain explosives designed to crackle in the sky, or whistles that explode outward with the stars.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The shells contain silver iodide, explosives and gunpowder.’
      • ‘Its shells contain fuel-air explosives that on detonation form a ball of fire, creating a powerful blast effect.’
      • ‘This will be cabled through this to a network system of modules that are then wired into the fireworks shells.’
      • ‘Exploding shells - initially hollow metal spheres filled with gunpowder - were first introduced in the second half of the 16th century.’
      • ‘Simple shells consist of a paper tube filled with stars and black powder.’
      • ‘Fiocchi paper shells will be available in early spring in 12-gauge trap, sporting clays and skeet loads.’
    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.’
      • ‘We carried semi-automatic rifles and shotguns with hollow point shells designed to pierce a boarder's hull right below the water line.’
      • ‘On the other hand, I have heard good-old-boys call rifle and handgun rounds shells.’
      bullet, cartridge, shot
      View synonyms
  • 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’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘I had set to the task of making approximately 350 small choux pastry shells.’
    • ‘Pour mixture into the tart shell and bake at 150C for 25-30 mins or until filling is set.’
    • ‘When they were cool, I melted 40 g of Valrhona baking chocolate in the microwave and glazed the shells using a pastry brush.’
    • ‘Quesadillas are good too, made with one of those big flour shells lined with meat or veggies and cheese, and flattened in the press.’
    • ‘A hockey helmet consists of a shell, a foam lining and an optional face shield, cage, or combination visor and cage.’
    • ‘With its fresh, cheese-stuffed pasta shells drizzled with a sauce that is rich but not overpowering, these miniature crescents are very tasty indeed.’
    • ‘Of the latter I sampled Baked Tortellini Vegetariana, a mixture of pasta shells, spinach, egg, cream and white cheese.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The pastry shell (one inch deep) is baked in an oven at 180°C for 10 minutes.’
    • ‘Instead of stuffing pasta shells with cheese, use tofu or even soy cheese.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A godsend is that the pastry shell does not need to be pre-baked.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Fill the shell with batter and pour into the hot oil to make jalebis.’
    • ‘Place the mixed ingredients into the pie shell and cover with pastry.’
    • ‘Pour this mixture into your pastry shell and place back into the oven for a further half an hour.’
    • ‘Put into the tart shell, and bake at 100C for an hour.’
    • ‘Prepare the pastry shell to bake blind - line with a piece of greaseproof or parchment paper and fill with beans.’
    1. 3.1 The walls of an unfinished or gutted building or other structure.
      ‘the hotel was a shell, the roof having collapsed completely’
      • ‘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 could then be completed (if funds come in) within 12 months.’
      • ‘In this ‘ruined town with its shells of buildings half-visible through the drifting smoke’, he set about organizing the evacuation of his men.’
      • ‘The beauty of remodeling a garage is that the shell of the building - often with both electricity and plumbing - already exists.’
      • ‘To my right were buildings with their first floors torn apart or gutted by fire, but the shells of the buildings still stood.’
      • ‘The buildings are shells with walls covered in mildew and grass growing through the floors as high as the ceilings.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the centre of the castle stands an empty shell of a building.’
      • ‘The building is a mere shell - cement-block walls, tin roof, benches inside, bare floor.’
      • ‘But last night only the burned-out shell of the building was left.’
      • ‘Several Union attacks had turned the once towering buildings to empty shells, not fit to live in.’
      • ‘The shell of the building will now be preserved and redeveloped under a previous approval into five shops and 12 offices.’
      • ‘It is contractor for the building shell at a cost of $951,000.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Situated in Leicester Square, in the shell of the collapsed superclub Home, the new Marquee couldn't appear more different from the original.’
      • ‘Only the shells of the original building still stand.’
      • ‘The building was a shell with the roof having fallen in and walls caving in.’
      • ‘Now, a bare shell of a building is all that remains.’
      • ‘Now the government buildings are burned-out shells.’
      • ‘I turned in her direction, and behind her, through the doorframe of a burned-out shell of a building, I saw them.’
    2. 3.2 An outer form without substance.
      ‘he was a shell of the man he had been previously’
      • ‘He sucked out their very essence, and they died instantly, leaving just empty shells of bodies behind.’
      • ‘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 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 nursery of humanity that cares for blending values with education, moulds character with learning and supplies substance to the shell of symbols.’
  • 4The metal framework of a vehicle body.

    • ‘He turned, motioning toward Lady Grey who waited a few feet away, leaning against the battered shell of a rusted vehicle.’
    • ‘Fuel cell vehicles were everywhere, some exotic and others covered with unobtrusive shells that could have just rolled off a production line.’
    • ‘Some of this handling panache is a by-product of the roll cage, which is installed while the car is still a bare shell.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ferner's boat, for instance, uses the shell of a Volkswagen station wagon for a cabin.’
    • ‘We passed several more smoking shells of vehicles destroyed by the resistance - more fuel tankers, more blasted APCs.’
    • ‘Even when the shell of a vehicle already exists, as it did in this case, the vehicle-design schedule traditionally spans about three years.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And also because, beneath its subtle shell, the car seems built to withstand impact from a meteor the size of Scotland.’
    • ‘Doyle approached a cop who had examined the charred shell of the limo and asked him what might have happened.’
    • ‘Massive coils of finished steel, ready to be turned into the shells of automobiles at Ford's facilities, were showing up without notice.’
    framework, frame, chassis, skeleton, basic structure
    View synonyms
  • 5A light racing boat.

    • ‘As I row in my racing shell, I flash back to Muller's words.’
    • ‘Rowing equipment is costly - an eight man sweeping boat, the largest of rowing shells, runs in around $28,000.’
    • ‘The classic built-for-speed vessel is the racing shell because its human cargo is also its engine.’
    • ‘The glow from the rising sun reflects off the sleek rowing shells as they glide on the Mississippi River.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 6An inner or roughly made coffin.

  • 7The hand guard of a sword.

  • 8Physics
    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.’
    • ‘Around each atomic nucleus, electrons occupy energy levels termed shells.’
    • ‘Nuclei with full shells of protons, neutrons, or both are said to have magic numbers and, if unexcited, are usually spherical.’
    • ‘Since it takes eight electrons to fill the electron shell, a silicon atom is continually looking for four electrons to bond with.’
    • ‘At this time, the maximum number of electron orbitals or electron shells for any element is seven.’
  • 9Computing

    short for shell program
    • ‘All UNIX / Linux shells support output redirection using the same syntax.’
    • ‘On the write-in side, a collection of text editors and shells claimed most of the votes.’
    • ‘To be truly productive with Linux, you need to thoroughly master the shells and the command line.’
    • ‘Thus far, you have an FTP client and a shell busily tidying up your home directory.’
    • ‘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.’


  • 1Bombard with shells.

    ‘several villages north of the security zone were shelled’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We have as much right to shell the enemy army's central headquarters as to shell its frontline positions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘US marines used amphibious assault vehicles to surround clusters of low, crude concrete buildings and shell nearby tanks.’
    • ‘This prevented another bombardment of Henderson Field by the Japanese battleships, but that night their cruisers shelled it heavily.’
    • ‘Almost 200,000 men working more than 5,000 ships of all kinds shelled the beaches and transported five divisions to designated landing sites.’
    • ‘They were also continuously shelled by 82 mm mortars.’
    • ‘Hospitals have been shelled and assaulted by gun fire and rockets.’
    • ‘We had no more desire to be shelled by Allied than by German guns.’
    • ‘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 tanks, their allies, which had almost turned on them, spilled their fire and shelled positions beyond the thin clump of woodland.’
    • ‘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 1918, the gun shelled Paris from a distance of 110 kilometers away.’
    • ‘Before being relived by the 94th Infantry later that day, the 5th Ranger Battalion was shelled one more time with some casualties taken.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But they knew our gun positions and they shelled us as they drew nearer.’
    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 shelled in his final outing, lasting less than two innings, then missed the play-offs with a freak knee injury.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The right-hander was desperately trying to figure out why he was constantly being shelled last season.’
  • 2Remove the shell or pod from (a nut or seed)

    ‘they were shelling peas’
    ‘shelled Brazil nuts’
    • ‘Why, even while watching television he shells walnuts.’
    • ‘Then some students had to stop shelling peanuts for a while to experience what it feels like to not have food security.’
    • ‘The cells similarly fire when the monkeys observe a person shelling peanuts and then hear peanut shells being broken apart.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My first memories are of sitting in the kitchen shelling peas and listening to my great-grandmother telling stories.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He approaches the task with the same zest with which he shelled the pistachios that came with the pre-lunch beers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Because lipomas generally do not infiltrate into surrounding tissue, they can be shelled out easily during excision.’
    • ‘When choosing shelled pecans, look for plump, not wrinkled ones.’
    • ‘Substitute shelled pistachios for nuts in any recipe you fancy.’
    • ‘I have witnessed expats shelling seeds with ease so, although I can't speak from experience, I know that it can be done.’
    • ‘Most of the trulli are still people's homes - as evidenced by the women shelling peas on the front stoops.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Like him, I sat for ages removing all those fiddly little stalks, or shelling peas and beans.’
    • ‘But tonight, I had shelled hazelnuts with raisins.’
    • ‘Green nuts are shelled, boiled to mellow the flavour, and sun dried.’
    • ‘Mama Emmy kept shelling peas, but her attention was on her granddaughter.’

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.’
      • ‘My power problem got me thinking that I need to be one of those guys who makes the money, instead of shelling it out all the time.’
      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 (sense 2 of the verb).