1
: 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
2
: 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

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 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

shell-shocked

adjective
ˈshel-ˌshäkt
1
: affected with shell shock
2
: mentally confused, upset, or exhausted as the result of being under too much stress

Medical Definition

shell-shocked

adjective
: affected with combat fatigue
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