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.
such projectiles collectively.
shell fragments.

1800–10; named after Henry Shrapnel (1761–1842), English army officer, its inventor Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
shrapnel (ˈʃræpnəl)
1.  a.  a projectile containing a number of small pellets or bullets exploded before impact
 b.  such projectiles collectively
2.  fragments from this or any other type of shell
[C19: named after H. Shrapnel (1761--1842), English army officer, who invented it]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

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 dim. form of O.Fr. charbon "charcoal," in ref. to complexion, hair color, or some other quality.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
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
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.
Image for shrapnel
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