AskDefine | Define clamshell

Dictionary Definition



1 the shell of a clam
2 a dredging bucket with hinges like the shell of a clam [syn: grapple]

User Contributed Dictionary



clam + shell


  1. The shell of a clam.
  2. A dredging bucket with hinges like the shell of a clam.
  3. In foodservice, the white, usually styrofoam box given to consumers with take-out food.
    It closes like a clamshell.
  4. An amphitheater, especially an outdoor amphitheater; the semi-circular acoustic backdrop behind and above the performers.


See also

Extensive Definition

In design, clamshell is a form resembling the shell of a clam, with the ability to open up in the same way. Motorola has a trademark on the term flip phone, but the term "flip phone" is more used colloquially than "clamshell phone", and is an example of genericization.
This design is often used in technology, particularly portable devices such as mobile phones, laptop computers, subnotebooks, the Game Boy Advance SP and the Nintendo DS. When the clamshell is open, the device is ready for use. The interface components are kept inside the clamshell, which offers more surface area than when the device is closed. Interface components such as keys and display are protected when the clamshell is closed, and it is less long or wide, making the device easier to carry around.


The form factor was first used by the laptop manufacturer GRiD (who had the patent on the idea at the time) for their Compass model in 1982.
Clamshell design of phones is generally agreed to have been inspired by the Star Trek original series communicator. A key difference, however, is that the grid that opens on the TOS communicator is solely an antenna, according to The Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual, while the upper part of the clamshell phone contains much of the functionality of the phone itself (the antenna is either internal or extends from the top of the lower half of the phone).
The first such model to sport the clamshell design was the Motorola StarTAC, created in 1996. The design has been copied by other mobile phone manufacturers, most notably Samsung, and Motorola is still best known for its clamshell models such as the RAZR.
The clamshell design has also been used in the Nokia Communicator series, with the first model released in 1996. Early models were very expensive and Nokia did not adopt the traditional clamshell phone design until 2004
A folding cellphone with the hinge along the long side, as in the LG Voyager (VX10000) is called a "lateral clamshell".


Bookbinders build clamshell boxes in which valuable books or loose papers can be protected from light and dust.
The form factor is most closely associated with the mobile phone market, although the design is also used on some landline phones, particularly cordless phones.
Other appliances like pocket watches, sandwich toasters and the George Foreman Grill have long utilised a clamshell design; a very similar concept is used in racing and road legal cars, like the Ford GT40 and Ferrari Enzo, where the whole rear end can be lifted to access the engine compartment and suspension system.
It is also an informal name for General Motors full-size station wagons (manufactured 1971–1976), that featured a complex, two-piece "disappearing" tailgate, officially known as the "Glide Away" tailgate.

Alternative mobile phone forms

  • Bar (form), a slab-shaped form
  • Slide (form), a form made of two or more parts that slide against each other
  • Swivel (form), a form made of two or more parts that swivel around
  • Brick (form), an overly "bulky" form, that can be Flip, Bar, Slide, or Swivel, but is usually Bar


clamshell in German: Klapphandy
clamshell in Finnish: Kansion muotoinen matkapuhelin
clamshell in Dutch: Clamshell
clamshell in Polish: Clamshell
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