O.E. scield, scild, related to sciell (see shell), from P.Gmc. *skeldus (cf. O.N. skjöldr, O.S. skild, M.Du. scilt, Du. schild, Ger. Schild, Goth. skildus), from base *skel- "divide, split, separate," from PIE base *(s)kel- "to cut." Perhaps the notion is of a flat piece of wood made by splitting a log. The verb is from O.E. gescildan. Shield volcano (1911) translates Ger. Schildvulkan (1910).