A Dictionary of the English Language
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Shell (noun)

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 1816, 1815

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 1816, 1815

Shell. n.s. [scýll, sceall, Saxon; schale, schelle, Dutch.]

  1. The hard covering of any thing; the external crust.

    The sun is as the fire, and the exterior earth is as the shell of the eolipile, and the abyss as the water within it; now when the heat of the sun had pierced thro' the shell and reach'd the waters, it rarefy'd them. Burn. Theo. of the Earth.

    Whatever we fetch from under ground is only what is lodged in the shell of the earth. Locke.

  2. The covering of a testaceous or crustaceous animal.

              Her women wear
    The spoils of nations in an ear;
    Chang'd for the treasure of a shell,
    And in their loose attires do swell.
    Ben. Johns. Catiline.

              Albion
    Was to Neptune recommended;
    Peace and plenty spread the sails:
    Venus, in her shell before him,
    From the sands in safety bore him.
    Dryden's Albion.

    The shells served as moulds to this sand, which, when consolidated, and afterwards freed from its investient shell, is of the same shape as the cavity of the shell. Woodward.

    He, whom ungrateful Athens could expel,
    At all times just, but when he sign'd the shell.
    Pope.

  3. The covering of the seeds of siliquous plants.

    Some fruits are contained within a hard shell, being the seeds of the plants. Arbuthnot.

  4. The covering of kernels.

    Chang'd loves are but chang'd sorts of meat;
    And when he hath the kernel eat,
    Who doth not throw away the shell?
    Donne.

  5. The covering of an egg.

              Think him as a serpent's egg,
    Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
    And kill him in the shell.
    Shakes. Julius Cæsar.

  6. The outer part of an house.

    The marquis of Medina Sidonia made the shell of a house, that would have been a very noble building, had he brought it to perfection. Addison on Italy.

  7. It is used for a musical instrument in poetry, from testudo, Latin; the first lyre being said to have been made by straining strings over the shell of a tortoise.

    Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
    Within the hollow of that shell,
    That spoke so sweetly.
    Dryden.

  8. The superficial part.

    So devout are the Romanists about this outward shell of religion, that if an altar be moved, or a stone of it broken, it ought to be reconsecrated. Ayliffe's Parergon.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Arbuthnot, John (227) · Ayliffe, John (43) · Burnet, Thomas (45) · Donne, John (44) · Dryden, John (788) · Jonson, Ben (70) · Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (42) · Locke, John (269) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Woodward, John (78)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Shell (noun)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 12, 2012. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=2957.


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