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[shrap-nl] /ˈʃræp nl/
  1. a hollow projectile containing bullets or the like and a bursting charge, designed to explode before reaching the target, and to set free a shower of missiles.
  2. such projectiles collectively.
shell fragments.
Origin of shrapnel
1800-10; named after Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), English army officer, its inventor Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for shrapnel
  • Each time someone questioned her about a term or some shrapnel of jargon, she offered a brief, lucid explanation.
  • The pipes themselves were less lucky, injured by shrapnel as he dived into a ditch.
  • The final frontier is littered with dead spacecraft and shrapnel.
  • Instead of rocks in a landslide, think of the runaway electrons as shrapnel tearing up a path through the storm cloud.
  • Flying bullets and shrapnel rendered firefighters powerless.
  • The blood is swirled and splattered in distinct, organic patterns, making artwork that resembles galactic shrapnel.
  • Same thing that the guys getting pummeled by shrapnel were doing up here.
  • With dozens of bullet and shrapnel wounds, he knew he was lucky to have survived.
  • The trick is to either grab shrapnel or coax it toward the planet, where it will burn up in the atmosphere.
  • Ever since, other satellites have had to be moved periodically to avoid the shrapnel.
British Dictionary definitions for shrapnel


  1. a projectile containing a number of small pellets or bullets exploded before impact
  2. such projectiles collectively
fragments from this or any other type of shell
Word Origin
C19: named after H. Shrapnel (1761–1842), English army officer, who invented it
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shrapnel

1806, from Gen. Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), who invented a type of exploding, fragmenting shell when he was a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery during the Peninsular War. The invention consisted of a hollow cannon ball, filled with shot, which burst in mid-air; his name for it was spherical case ammunition. Sense of "shell fragments" is first recorded 1940. The surname is attested from 13c., and is believed to be a metathesized form of Charbonnel, a diminutive form of Old French charbon "charcoal," in reference to complexion, hair color, or some other quality.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shrapnel



An obnoxious patient

[1970s+ Medical; fr subhuman piece of shit]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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