shell(redirected from shells)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.
Related to shells: Electron shells
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!
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
bring (one) out of (one's) shell
To cause someone to be more outgoing. Usually said of a shy or introverted person. Wow, I remember when Anna wouldn't even talk to anyone, and now she's likely to be voted "Most Talkative"—I wonder what brought her out of her shell.
come out of one's shell
To be or become less shy or reticent and more sociable, outgoing, or enthusiastic. 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 when he comes out of his shell.
like shelling peas
Especially easy or intuitive. I was worried that the chemistry class would be too hard, but it was like shelling peas in the end.
To pay a sum of money, especially one that seems exorbitant or unfair. They said I had to shell out $200 to cancel my contract early! I know it's a lot of money, but you'll have to shell out if you want to join in.
bring (one) out of one's shelland 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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
out of one's shell
see under in one's shell.
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]
come out of your shell
COMMON If you come out of your shell, you become less shy and more confident. She used to be very timid and shy but I think she's come out of her shell. Note: You can say that someone or something brings you out of your shell when they cause you to be less shy and more confident. I think the job has brought her out of her shell. Note: You can also say that someone goes into or retreats into their shell, meaning that they become more shy and less confident. He went into his shell as he got older, seeing less and less of his friends. Note: The image is of a snail or shellfish, both of which go into their shells for protection.
a shell gameAMERICAN
If someone is playing a shell game, they are deliberately deceiving people, usually by changing things or pretending to change things, in order to gain an advantage. At the same time, O'Leary was playing a shell game, moving money from one account to another to satisfy debts. Independent financing — with its soft money schemes and local tax breaks — is at best a shell game. Note: The shell game is an old confidence trick. An object is hidden under one of three cups, which are then moved out of their original order. The victim bets on where the object is, and typically gets it wrong. The trick may have become known as the shell game because it was originally done with walnut shells rather than cups.
come out of (or retreat into) your shellbecome less (or more) shy and retiring.
come out of your ˈshell,
bring somebody out of their ˈshell(informal) become less shy and more confident when talking to other people: When Anna first joined the club, it took her a long time to come out of her shell.
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.
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.
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!
shell an amount of money outverb
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.”