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A fine-grained detrital sedimentary rock, formed by the consolidation (esp. by compression) of clay, silt, or mud. It is characterized by finely laminated structure, which imparts a fissility approx. parallel to the bedding, along which the rock breaks readily into thin layers, and by an appreciable content of clay minerals and detrital quartz; a thinly laminated or fissile claystone, siltstone, or mudstone. It is generally soft but sufficiently indurated so that it will not fall apart on wetting; it is less firm than argillite and slate, commonly has a splintery fracture and a smooth feel, and is easily scratched. Its color may be red, brown, black, or gray. Etymol: Teutonic, probably Old English scealu, shell, husk, akin to German schale, shell.