An operating system software user interface, whose primary purpose is to launch other programs and control their interactions; the user's command interpreter. Shell is a way to separate the internal complexity of the implementation of the command from the user. The internals can change while the user experience/interface remains the same.
From Middle English schelle, from Old English sċiell, from Proto-West Germanic *skallju, from Proto-Germanic *skaljō, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kelH-.
Compare West Frisian skyl ("peel, rind"), Dutch schil ("peel, skin, rink"), Low German Schell ("shell, scale"), Irish scelec ("pebble"), Latin silex ("pebble, flint"), siliqua, Old Church Slavonic сколика ("shell"). More at shale.
From being viewed as an outer layer of interface between the user and the operating-system internals.
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