1. the female body.
|Muses Delight 177: As I trolled a-long I grappled her shell, she stag’d rum bowman & knew me full well.‘A Cant Song’|
2. the vagina.
|Dialogue between a Married Lady and a Maid II: This pretty shell, prettier than that out of which Venus herself was born, will be sadly torn by Philander.|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
|Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 75: Conque, f. The female pudendum; ‘the shell’.|
3. (US Und.) a safe.
|DAUL 191/1: Shell. A safe or vault with a thin door.et al.|
|,||DAS 465/2: shell n. 1. A vault or safe [...] archaic.|
4. (US) a portion of opium.
|Stories of Chinatown 36: Bring a shell of dope, will you?|
|N.Y.’s Chinatown 314: Each group had the regulation lamp, a pipe and a ‘shell of dope’.|
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 127: He lacked the price of a ‘shell’ of hop, and he had a yen that had crawled into his very soul. [Ibid.] 195: Bring a couple shells an’ a stem.|
|Commercialized Prostitution in N.Y. City 91: For a ‘shell of hop’ he would kill a dozen Chinamen.|
5. (Aus.) a coffin.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Apr. 11/4: Every corpse within a radius of 20 miles put in an appearance […]. Morning coaches and coffins were advertised to call at 11 p.m., but so numerous were the encores that it was long after that hour before the entertainment was finished, and some of the ghastly audience had barely time to scurry home to their plantations and creep into their shells before the Araluen roosters began to call ‘Time’s up’ from every perch and dunghill.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 11 July 7/3: The word ‘shell’ we think unusually appropriate and graceful. It performs the double office of satisfying all the requirements of metre and all the wants of Robert. That it does the former felicitously will be seen at once when you try to substitute for it some word such as ‘coffin,’ ‘piner,’ or ‘cherry-case’ when the halting rhythm warns you to let ‘shell’ alone.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Aug. 12/3: The hospital porter [...] put the Orangeman in the cheap, black casket intended for the cadaver whose name had been Pat [...]. The ornate and privately purchased shell was filled with the only corpse left.|
|Pensacola News Jrnl (FL) 2 June D1/5: It has been tagged as a crate, a bone-box, an oak overcoat, a six-foot bungalow, a shell. Chicago gangland mentioned it [...] as a wooden kimono.|
6. (Aus./US) a corpse.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Sept. 13/1: Early one recent morning a very beery mariner, fell out of a third-floor window at the Melb. Sailor’s Home[...]. It was apparently a case for the morgue, but when they took the ‘shell’ to the hospital on the off-chance, it was found that, except for a bruise or two, he was none the worse.|
|Popular Detective Jan. [Internet] Mrs. Drupe is getting very impatient as she cannot collect life insurance on Corny until they find his shell.‘Bird Cagey’ in|
7. (Aus., also shell pink) an ear.
|Sun. Times (Perth) 18 Feb. 4/8: ’E kep’ on whisperin’ in their shells like ennything [...] Right up close in their shells.|
|Aus. Word Map [Internet] shell pink. the ears: May I have a word or two in your shell pink(s).|
8. a hearse.
SE in slang uses
1. orig. of sailors, a veteran; thence an ultra-conservative, slow-witted person.
|Scaramento Daily Union (CA) 12 Dec. 2/4: Here is a brief extract, illustrating something of the dangers to which the marine ‘shellback’ is constantly exposed.|
|Scarmento Daily Union (CA) 17 May 3/4: The old Copperhead patriarch [...] was heard to ask his friends what kind of a flag it was proposed to display [...] ‘The Stars and Stripes, of course,’ replied the friend. ‘I thought so,’ said the old shellback.|
|Pacific Rural Press 4 Oct. 217/4: The tar is in his element [...] and makes the clumsiest ‘shellback’ for the time a model of grace.|
|L.A. Herald 16 Mar. 4/1: ‘I wonder what brings old Eyre into the Exchange?’ remarked one of the shellbacks in the lobby.|
|Sailors’ Lang. xiii: The merchant seaman [...] does not apparantly blush to figure as ‘Jack Muck’ and ‘Shellback’.|
|Jack’s Courtship I 3: It takes a sailor a long time to straighten his spine and get quit of the bold sheer that earns him the name of shell-back.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Mar. 20/1: They soused him in water, and scrubbed him every day, till the period was up. Still the old shellback was groggy.|
|On Many Seas 42: He was a genuine old ‘shellback,’ who I believe would have growled if he had been invited by a fairy to wish for whatever he wanted.(H.E. Hamblen)|
|Shellback 325: He knew his work, and was a thoroughgoing old shellback, although only about thirty years of age.|
|W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 23 Feb. 1/1: One of the bungling shellbacks, ordered not to follow, tracked up the crimson dyed damsel by her ruddy trail.|
|Show Girl and Her Friends 48: You know how it is when you are out with a shellbark [sic]. You hope [...] he’ll loosen up and buy you something nice.|
|God’s Man 293: Hard on an old shell-back that sweated blood to lay up savings for a safe harbor.|
|(con. 1899) Shanghaied Out of Frisco 23: The weather-beaten old shell-back.|
|Western Morn. News 23 May 8/3: Hark to the tale of shellback as lay on Plymouth Hoe.|
|Love me Sailor 68: It would have been funny to see that old shellback.|
|Peyton Place (1959) 325: By Jesus! he thought, I’ll have to watch it. I’m beginning to sound like a true shellback.|
|Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 69: These independent Cornish shell backs need careful wooing.|
|Sailortown 4: Did not the shellback often feel that he would like to become ‘the mate of a fish ’n’ chip cart, with brass knobs and hand-rails’?|
|Remembering How We Stood 108: It was a description that an old shellback had once given me.|
|Z Town Trilogy 162: God but you are a shell bek.|
|Sucked In 21: It was the Reformers versus the Shellbacks. the arena was the union movement.|
2. attrib. use of sense 1.
|Sacramento Daily Union (CA) 7 Feb. 2/6: There would be goodly numbers of old shellback Democrats there.|
|Zealandia’s Guerdon 127: He was a regular ‘shell-back’ skipper.|
|Big Ask 165: My task was to muster the strays. Disaffected individuals, the shell-back left, up-for-grabs ethnics.|
1. (also nutshell racket) a swindling game in which a small object is concealed under a walnut shell or the like; the manipulator then moves the shells round at speed; bets are made on the shell under which the object is found.
|Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 24 Dec. 12/2: Toohey in the capacity of ‘capper’, gave Meiley his first lesson in the ‘shell game’.|
|Wichita Eagle (KS) 5 Aug. 5/4: The case against Ed. D. Dorsey [...] charged with gambling, in working the nutshell racket, was dismissed.|
|DA].Turnover Club 169: Would endeavour to make a collection of Japanese coins, with their cards and a shell game [|
|Powers That Prey 71: One is a variation of the old shell-game.|
|Gentle Grafter (1915) 228: That night I went down to the circus tents and opened up a small shell game.‘The Ethics of Pig’ in|
|Keys to Crookdom 123: The shell game is a typical bunko trick.|
|(ref. to late 19C) Amer. Madam (1981) 242: There was faro (bucking the tiger), blackjack (twenty-one), old sledge (seven up), the shell game, three card monte, chuck-a-luck, escarte and brag.|
|Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.|
|Blue Ribbon Western Nov. [Internet] This fairly honest larceny is known as the shell game.‘Billy the Kidder’ in|
|Dead Ringer 21: Your pennypitch games that slide along the borderline of gambling would be shell games and three-card montes.|
|Big Smoke 70: I’m the patron of all them that do be practising the shell game.|
|(con. 1950s) Whoreson 29: Artifice became my bible, as I learnt how to play stuff, the shell game, pigeon drop and three card molly.|
|A-Team 2 (1984) 164: We could work a shell game on those geeks.|
|Homeboy 77: That faith like a shell game had mocked Joe all his life.|
2. a generic for any form of confidence trick.
|(con. 1949) Big Blowdown (1999) 193: I think Gearhart had a very good idea when talked about implementing that old shell game with the second group of men.|
(US) to throw a person, often a woman who refuses to have sex, out of a vehicle and thus force them to walk home an inconvenient and poss. embarrassing distance.
|Forty Modern Fables 271: Any one who put a Napkin inside of his Collar or wore a striped Bow with Full Dress would be shell-roaded.|
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 531: She is shell-roaded on the Pelham Parkway by some Yale guys when she gets cross with them.‘It Comes Up Mud’ in|
(US Und.) one who operates a shell game
|Fools of Fortune 348: The simplicity of the apparatus enables the ‘shell’ man to carry his outfit with him in his vest pocket wherever he may go.|
|Artie (1963) 109: He’s better ’n any o’ them shell-workers that used to graft out at the government pier.|
|Cincinnati Enquirier (OH) 26 May 2/2: Among the goody-good every thimble-rigger, shell spieler and brace dealer is a gambler.|
|Hands Up! 66: Confidence men, shell workers, and sand-baggers followed them like wolves after a lone prairie traveler. [Ibid.] 68: The next one to walk into trouble without looking for it was a merry ‘shell man.’.|
|True Bills 105: I may not handle as much Coin as some of the Shell-Workers that hang out in Wall Street.‘The Fable of the Misdirected Sympathy’ in|
|Wretches of Povertyville 221: The three card monte men and the shell men have been driven off the street.|
|Confessions of a Con Man 57: The head shell-worker had done time for manslaughter.|
|Madison Jrnl (LA) 30 Aug. 3/1: ‘Charge, gamblin’. All hands plead guilty.’ [...] It was a phoney police court [...] owned and controlled by the shell men.|
|Wash. Times (DC) 10 Oct. 15/2: You were the finest shell worker [...] that ever cleaned up a county fair.|
|Gay-cat 176: He munched and listened to the shell-workers talk singsongingly of the elusive little pea.|
|El Paso Herald (TX) 18 July 13/6: The circus grafters are the shell and wheel men, flat-joint and broad workers, stalls and dips.|
|AS XXII:3 162: There are today two fairly well defined types of professional shell-men operating.|
(Aus. Und.) one who operates a shell game
|Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 2 Dec. 18/1: All sorts and conditions of crooks take part in the great trek — ‘whizz’ men, ‘broad-tossers,’ ‘shell’ wroughters, ‘Jack’ spinners; all are there.|