One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Having a soft shell. Chiefly in the names of animals, especially a softshell turtle or the softshell clam.
2Originally and chiefly US. That adopts or advocates a moderate course or policy in politics or religion; = "softshell" Chiefly in "soft-shelled Baptist"noun = softshell Baptist.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Randle Cotgrave (fl. 1587–?1630), lexicographer. From soft + shelled.
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