retreat into (one's) shell(redirected from retreated into their shells)
retreat 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 retreated 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 retreat into my shell and wait until I can be alone. Don't retreat 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 retreated into their shells after halftime, trying to protect a slim lead. The senator retreated into his shell when reporters tried to question him about allegations of tax fraud.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
go, retreat, withdraw, etc. into your ˈshellbecome more shy and avoid talking to other people: If you ask him about his family, he goes into his shell.
See also: shell
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017