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 As a result, the shell shock of the past 24 months for consumers is still wearing off. Rob Wile, NBC News, 11 Jan. 2024 But Morrissey zeroes in on present-tense shell shock. Armond White, National Review, 1 Nov. 2023 The book comprises portraits of healers, including W. H. R. Rivers, who treated soldiers who suffered from shell shock during the First World War, and Paul Robeson, who found solace in intuition and in the irrational. Condé Nast, The New Yorker, 17 July 2023 Richardson provided two of the three big swings over the first three innings that helped the Horned Frogs shell shock the Razorbacks and most of the 11,121 in attendance at Baum-Walker Stadium. Matt Jones, Arkansas Online, 5 June 2023 From then on, Candy’s calculating mind, despite the shell shock, goes into overdrive, concocting the alibi. Tommy Cummings, Dallas News, 9 May 2023 Teenagers looked at one another with shell shock. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 23 Oct. 2020 Sometimes a note will reveal a nuance, like the way that Septimus’s brown shoes would place him a notch above the working class; elsewhere, a long note on shell shock explains how his condition does and doesn’t match the clinical literature of the time. Jeremy McCarter, WSJ, 20 Aug. 2021 Then came the shell shock. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 6 Dec. 2020

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

Word History

First Known Use

1915, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shell shock was in 1915

Dictionary Entries Near shell shock

Cite this Entry

“Shell shock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

shell shock

: any of numerous nervous conditions appearing in soldiers exposed to modern warfare

Medical Definition

shell shock


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