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crawl into (one's) shell

To retreat into one's mind or otherwise isolate oneself so as to avoid undesirable thoughts, situations, or interactions with people. After getting mugged, I crawled into my shell and didn't speak to anyone for nearly a week. I'm not good around large groups of people; I usually just crawl into my shell and wait until I can be alone. Don't crawl into your shell because you don't want an argument—talk to me and let's discuss the problem!
See also: crawl, shell

go into (one's) shell

1. To retreat into one's mind or otherwise isolate oneself so as to avoid undesirable thoughts, situations, or interactions with people. After getting mugged I went into my shell and didn't speak to anyone for nearly a week. I'm not good around large groups of people; I usually just go into my shell and wait until I can be alone. Don't go into your shell because you don't want an argument—talk to me and let's discuss the problem!
2. To act in a reserved and/or defensive manner. The team went into their shells after half time, trying to protect a slim lead. The senator went into his shell when reporters tried to question him about allegations of tax fraud.
See also: shell

be out of (one's) shell

To be less shy or reticent and more sociable, outgoing, or enthusiastic. Samantha was quite a quiet girl growing up, but she's really been out of her shell since leaving for college. Jack is actually a very funny, engaging guy once he's out of his shell.
See also: of, out, shell

out of (one's) shell

Less shy, reserved, or reticent and in a more sociable, outgoing, or enthusiastic state. Samantha was quite a quiet girl growing up, but she really started coming out of her shell in college. Jack is actually a very funny, engaging guy once he's out of his shell.
See also: of, out, shell

come out of (one's) shell

To become more outgoing. Usually said of a shy or introverted person. Wow, Anna has really come out of her shell lately. I remember when she wouldn't even talk to anyone, and now she's likely to be voted "Most Talkative."
See also: come, of, out, shell

shell game

1. A game in which an object is placed under one of three cups or shells, which are then moved around. The person playing the game must guess the final location of the object. Don't play any of those stupid shell games at the carnival, they're impossible to win!
2. By extension, a method of deception that involves hiding or obscuring the truth. Primarily heard in US. The appliance salesman played a shell game and switched the refrigerator I agreed to purchase with a used model. A Ponzi scheme is a type of shell game that always fails because it relies on money from new investors in order to pay old investors.
See also: game, shell

bring (one) out of one's shell

 and get one out of one's shell; bring one out; get one out
Fig. to make a person become more open and friendly. (Alludes to a shy turtle being coaxed to put its head out of its shell.) We tried to bring Greg out of his shell, but he is very shy. He's quiet, and it's hard to get him out of his shell.
See also: bring, of, out, shell

come out of one's shell

Fig. to become more friendly; to be more sociable. (Alludes to a shy turtle putting its head out of its shell.) Come out of your shell, Tom. Go out and make some friends.
See also: come, of, out, shell

in a nut shell

Fig. [of news or information] in a (figurative) capsule; in summary. This cable channel provides the latest news in a nut shell. In a nut shell, what happened at work today?
See also: nut, shell

shell out (an amount of money)

to spend a certain amount of money. I'm not going to shell out $400 for that! Come on. You owe me. Shell out!
See also: out, shell

shell out something

to pay money The insurance giant estimates that in Texas alone it will have to shell out $85 million to settle these claims. How much does the company expect to shell out for a solution to the problem?
Usage notes: usually said about large amounts of money
See also: out, shell

a shell game

  (American)
a method of deceiving or cheating someone, by moving things from one place to another in order to hide what you are doing
Usage notes: A shell game is a game in which someone must guess which of three shells a ball or pea (= a small, round, green vegetable) is placed under when they are moved quickly around.
The thieves played a shell game with the police, constantly shifting the stolen goods. He owns many small businesses in different states as part of a shell game to save on taxes.
See also: game, shell

come out of your shell

to become less shy and more friendly Tom used to be very withdrawn but he's really come out of his shell since Susan took an interest in him.
See also: come, of, out, shell

like shelling peas

If an activity is like shelling peas, it is very easy for you. For Adam, learning to ski was like shelling peas.
See also: like, pea, shell

in one's shell

Also, into one's shell. In a quiet or withdrawn state. For example, Jim is extremely shy; if you try to get him to talk he immediately goes into his shell. This usage alludes to the shell as a protective covering and dates from about 1800, as does the antonym, out of one's shell, as in Once Anne is out of her shell she's very articulate. However, the same expression was also used from the 1500s on to denote being young and inexperienced, alluding to a baby bird that had not quite emerged from its shell.
See also: shell

out of one's shell

see under in one's shell.
See also: of, out, shell

shell out

Pay, hand over, as in We had to shell out $1,000 for auto repairs. This expression transfers taking a seed such as a pea or nut out of its pod or shell to taking money out of one's pocket. [Colloquial; c. 1800]
See also: out, shell

shell out

v.
To pay some amount of money, often reluctantly: I had to shell out $500 on car repairs. We had to shell the full amount of tuition out even though many of the classes had been canceled.
See also: out, shell

shell out (an amount of money)

and shell (an amount of money) out
tv. & in. to spend a certain amount of money. I’m not going to shell $400 out for that!
See also: amount, money, of, out, shell

shell an amount of money out

verb
See also: amount, money, of, out, shell

shell out

verb
See also: out, shell

shell shock

Psychological adverse reaction to combat. The phrase originated during World War I when intensive enemy artillery bombarding caused soldiers in the trenches to suffer from a variety of traumas that ranged from moderate panic attacks to physical and emotional paralysis. Changes in warfare and psychological lingo caused the phrase to be replaced during the Second World War by “battle fatigue” and more recently to “posttraumatic stress disorder.”
See also: shell, shock
References in classic literature ?
But, true to his nature, he did not crouch down under the shriek of that first shell.
Jerry had just gained the doorway when the shell exploded.
A shell had fallen through the palace roof and exploded just in the rear of the detachment of guardsmen who were coming to the rescue of their emperor.
At the same moment the third shell burst through the roof of the cottage, and exploded in the room, just inside the door.
I am afraid the shell has struck her," she said, yielding her place to him.
The light disclosed the frightful injury which a fragment of the shell had inflicted on the Englishwoman's head.
He turned from the bed, and illustrated his disgust by spitting on the fragments of the exploded shell.
Within this shell were shut up a large cat, and a squirrel belonging to J.
The mortar was charged with 160 pounds of powder, and the shell placed in the chamber.
Without a moment's loss of time a small boat put off in the direction of its fall; some divers plunged into the water and attached ropes to the handles of the shell, which was quickly dragged on board.
Hardly had the shell been opened when the cat leaped out, slightly bruised, but full of life, and exhibiting no signs whatever of having made an aerial expedition.
He glanced at the sky, expecting to find there the cloud shell he had been admiring and taking as the symbol of the ideas and feelings of that night.
The first step in any Fourth of July show is to decide what types of shells, or fireworks, will wow the crowd.
Researchers have developed a new way to use mussel shells to diagnose a sick environment.
Weber's NTT group will provide know-how and form the nickel shells for molds.