A shell of its former self

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englishgeek

Active member
Sep 23, 2020
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I thought I would try and write about idioms I hear in daily life.

So this morning I was watching a news report about London, how it is deserted (empty) during the current Covid lockdown.

The reporter said 'London is a shell of its former self'. It means London is nothing like it was before, a bustling city with workers and tourists. It comes from sea creatures that live in shells. Eventually they die and only the shell remains.

A similar phrase which can be used for people is 'a shadow your former self', which means to describe someone who has completely changed, usually in a negative way.

Here is an example when talking about a fighter from the MMA:

Shogun (the fighter's name) looked old and looked like a shell of his former self tonight,” he continued. “Yeah, I’d like to see him hang it up hopefully.... I think he has two fights left on his deal. But yeah, I’d like to see him retire.”