shell shock


Definition of shell shock

: post-traumatic stress disorder occurring under wartime conditions (as combat) that cause intense stress : battle fatigue, combat fatigue In the receiving ward he found a patient shivering on his bunk with a diagnosis—in this case accurate—of severe shell shock.— Albert E. Cowdrey A Veterans Administration psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Ewald, has reckoned that some 700,000 Vietnam veterans have suffered from various forms of "post-traumatic stress syndrome," the modern term for what was called "shell shock" in World War I and "battle fatigue" in World War II.— Stanley Karnow

Examples of shell shock in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Seemingly overnight, the field of war psychiatry emerged and a new term—shell shock—appeared to describe a range of mental injuries, from facial tics to an inability to speak. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How PTSD went from ‘shell-shock’ to a recognized medical diagnosis," 16 June 2020 Dirk Bogarde plays the officer assigned to defend the young man, who obviously is suffering from shell shock. Susan King, Los Angeles Times, "World War I inspired some cinematic masterpieces. Here are a few of them," 1 Jan. 2020 What shell shock was to the soldiers returning from World War I, unemployment and economic insecurity were to the middle and working classes. Susanna Lee, The Conversation, "When confronting the coronavirus, tough isn’t enough," 1 Apr. 2020 Medical workers also face their own version of shell shock from the psychological strain of seeing so many patients die. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "The world's new heroes are medical workers," 24 Mar. 2020 With these weapons came an ever-expanding vocabulary to depict their hellish consequences, from shell shock to radiation poisoning to Agent Orange Syndrome. David Oshinsky, The New York Review of Books, "‘The Human Mind Was Not Made for War’," 28 Jan. 2020 Iya, the gentle giant nicknamed Beanpole (first-timer Viktoria Miroshnichenko), was discharged for shell shock and suffers strange paralytic blackouts as a result of the trauma. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "Oscars: International Film Race Puts Spotlight on Extreme Female Characters," 8 Nov. 2019 Liz Trubridge, one of the Downton Abbey producers, says the filmmakers were working off longtime rumors that Lascelles suffered from shell shock as a result of serving during World War I. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "The Real History Behind the Downton Abbey Movie," 20 Sep. 2019 In Reno, Ginger Fenwick started Bees4Vets with her husband, Daniel, in 2018 after spotting a 1919 pamphlet written by the government that advocated beekeeping for veterans returning from World War I with shell shock. Michael Casey And Mike Householder, USA TODAY, "How can veterans cope with PTSD? Some are turning to beekeeping," 11 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shell shock.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shell shock

1915, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of shell shock was in 1915

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Cite this Entry

“Shell shock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

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