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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They went on with their spading in the fields, while shrapnel was pinging.

    Young Hilda at the Wars Arthur Gleason
  • How often have I felt anxious seeing these shrapnel through the telescope.

  • It exploded almost in our midst, and I was unlucky enough to get in the way of one of the shrapnel bullets.

    Through St. Dunstan's to Light James H. Rawlinson
  • Oh for the good "Queen Bess," her high command, and her 15-inch shrapnel!

  • Some were killed on the decks of the transports by shrapnel.

    At Suvla Bay John Hargrave
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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