The term 'shell' refers to a general class of text-based command interpreters most often associated with the Unix & Linux operating systems.

In computing, a shell is a user interface for access to an operating system's services. In general, operating system shells use either a command-line interface (CLI) or graphical user interface (GUI), depending on a computer's role and particular operation. It is named a shell because it is the outermost layer around the operating system kernel.