: a piece or fragment of a brittle substance
shards of glass
broadly : a small piece or part : scrap
little shards of time and space recorded by the camera's lens Rosalind Krauss
: shell, scale
especially : elytron
or sherd : a fragment of a pottery vessel found on sites and in refuse deposits where pottery-making peoples have lived
: highly angular curved glass fragments of tuffaceous sediments

Did you know?

Shard dates back to Old English (where it was spelled sceard) and is related to Old English scieran, meaning "to cut." English speakers have adopted the modernized shard spelling for most uses, but archaeologists prefer to spell the word sherd when referring to the ancient fragments of pottery (sometimes referred to specifically as potsherds) they unearth. While shard initially referred to exactly such items, today the word is also used more broadly to encompass slivers of intangible concepts. A baseless accusation may be made "without a shard of evidence," and fans of the losing team may "cling to a shard of hope" until the final score. The utility of shard is its, ahem, point.

Examples of shard in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Suddenly, things begin to slip into surreality, as Sophie levitates and the whole tableau comes crashing down into the shards of a shattered glass patio table — while Paul observes the catastrophe from the passive middle distance. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2023 The shards of fluorescent tubes are swept up after the match. Joshua Needelman, Curbed, 1 Nov. 2023 With as little as three or four ingredients and often no baking required, these pretty shards of chocolate dressed up with toppings are attainable for even the most novice bakers. Mary Shannon Wells, Southern Living, 31 Oct. 2023 Cue the jar being at the center of a tug of war, then cracking into a million tiny shards of glass. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 22 Sep. 2023 Learn More › The rising sun sent shards of orange, violet, and red pastel light across the eastern sky on a morning muzzleloader deer hunt in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Brad Fenson, Outdoor Life, 1 Nov. 2023 And at the end, there are just piles of onion shards at his feet, and he’s left with really basically nothing. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 19 Oct. 2023 The album is composed of 21 glimmering shards, none of the tracks extending much past the two-minute mark. Jayson Greene, Pitchfork, 17 Oct. 2023 Perhaps time crystalizes into its present shape out of shattered shards swimming around in the early universe. WIRED, 27 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shard.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English sceard; akin to Old English scieran to cut — more at shear

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of shard was before the 12th century


Dictionary Entries Near shard

Cite this Entry

“Shard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shard. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a piece or fragment of something brittle (as pottery)

More from Merriam-Webster on shard

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