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[greyp-shot] /ˈgreɪpˌʃɒt/
a cluster of small cast-iron balls formerly used as a charge for a cannon.
1740-50; grape + shot1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for grape-shot


ammunition for cannons consisting of a canvas tube containing a cluster of small iron or lead balls that scatter after firing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for grape-shot



also grape-shot, 1747, from grape + shot (n.). So called for its appearance. The whiff of grapeshot popularized in English from 1837, from Carlyle's history of the French Revolution (in which it was a chapter title).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for grape-shot


cannon charge consisting of small round balls, usually of lead or iron, and used primarily as an antipersonnel weapon. Typically, the small iron balls were held in clusters of three by iron rings and combined in three tiers by cast-iron plates and a central connecting rod. This assembly, which reminded gunners of a cluster of grapes (hence the name), broke up when the gun was fired, spread out in flight like a shotgun charge, and sprayed the target area. Grapeshot was widely used in wars of the 18th and 19th centuries at short range against massed troops.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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