: affected with shell shock or combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder
She sometimes had psychoneurotic cases on board, shell-shocked men whose behavior could not be predicted.Doris Weatherford
Sassoon was familiar with such rough-and-ready treatment, part of which encouraged shell-shocked soldiers to repress their memories of the trenches, shake themselves out of their depression, and carry on manfully.Roger J. Spiller
: mentally confused, upset, or exhausted as a result of a highly stressful or disturbing and often unexpected event or experience
She was shell-shocked, reeling from her loss in Iowa and polls that showed her cratering in New Hampshire.Joe Klein
shell-shocked consumers were pledging their allegiance to the "New Frugality." Chastened by the brutal lessons of the worst economic downturn in decades, Americans swore off conspicuous consumption and resolved to embrace the thrifty ways of their grandparents …Stefan Theil

Examples of shell-shocked in a Sentence

even after the long furlough, the returning soldiers still felt a little shell-shocked shell-shocked survivors who were in dire need of every kind of help
Recent Examples on the Web The way Kansas had lost — a 10-2 run by BYU after leading for 35 minutes, 30 seconds of game time — left Dickinson shell-shocked. Shreyas Laddha, Kansas City Star, 28 Feb. 2024 Nirvana’s In Utero and Weezer’s Pinkerton are the canonical ‘90s alt-rock albums on which newly minted rock stars shell-shocked by their sudden multi-platinum fame defiantly made a tougher, uglier record under the pressure to keep the hits coming. Al Shipley, SPIN, 17 Jan. 2024 A day later, Shani buried her father, Itzik Kozin, too shell-shocked to speak. Andrea Mandell, Peoplemag, 2 Dec. 2023 Next to her, Salma, a teacher and mother of four, is tending to her 17-year-old daughter, who’s ill and shell-shocked. Sarah El Sirgany, CNN, 23 Sep. 2023 Looking shell-shocked and haunted, Will just stares blankly when Nichols asks him what happened. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 22 Aug. 2023 As Hawaii continues its effort to contain wildfires across the Big Island and Maui, and a climbing death toll leaves residents shell-shocked, scientists across the United States have begun to take stock of the plants and animals that have been lost to the flames. Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News, 12 Aug. 2023 After a few seconds, Waterson sits up, cheerfully shell-shocked. Lauren Larson, Men's Health, 25 July 2023 The American public is also probably just shell-shocked after a tumultuous three years, and not ready to let its guard down. Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 13 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shell-shocked.' 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 at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shell-shocked was in 1915

Dictionary Entries Near shell-shocked

Cite this Entry

“Shell-shocked.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shell-shocked. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: affected with shell shock
: mentally confused, upset, or exhausted as the result of being under too much stress

Medical Definition


: affected with combat fatigue
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