shrap·​nel | \ ˈshrap-nᵊl How to pronounce shrapnel (audio) , especially Southern ˈsrap-\
plural shrapnel

Definition of shrapnel

1 : a projectile that consists of a case provided with a powder charge and a large number of usually lead balls and that is exploded in flight
2 : bomb, mine, or shell fragments

Examples of shrapnel in a Sentence

He has a piece of shrapnel in his leg. Shrapnel from the explosion wounded many people.

Recent Examples on the Web

An exploding e-cigarette killed a 24-year-old Texas man after debris from the device sent shrapnel into his neck, resulting in a massive stroke after severing off blood to his brain. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Texas Man Dies After Exploding E-Cigarette Sends Shrapnel into His Neck," 5 Feb. 2019 In April, when an engine exploded in midair on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas, a gust of shrapnel blew out a window in the cabin and partially sucked a 43-year-old woman headfirst into the sky., "A windshield shattered on a plane in China, pulling the pilot partly through the window," 15 May 2018 Some Palestinian rockets exploded inside Israel damaging property and peppering homes and cars with shrapnel. Washington Post, "Israel strikes Hamas after heavy rocket attacks from Gaza," 20 June 2018 For Andrew Munya, who was injured in the Westgate attack when shrapnel hit his left shoulder, Kenya will not be safe until al-Shabab is dealt with for good. Tom Odula, Fox News, "5 years after mall Kenya attack, al-Shabab's threat grows," 21 Sep. 2018 Witnesses, however, said that the coalition was targeting Houthi fighters when shrapnel hit the bus carrying the civilians. Time, "The Battle for Control of a Key Port City in Yemen Intensifies," 20 June 2018 Witnesses however said that the coalition had targeted Houthi fighters, but that shrapnel also hit the bus that was carrying civilians. Washington Post, "Yemeni officials say fighting rages around Hodeida airport," 19 June 2018 The 2-year-old girl suffered serious injuries when the shrapnel struck her between her eyes March 25 during a family party on Mannering Road in the city's Euclid-Green neighborhood, according to a police report. Courtney Astolfi,, "Bullet shrapnel from Cleveland shooting strikes 2-year-old girl in face," 6 Apr. 2018 The incoming mortar round peppered his face, neck, chest and leg with shrapnel. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, "America’s Other Endless War: Battling al-Shabaab in Somalia," 17 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shrapnel.' 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 shrapnel

1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shrapnel

Henry Shrapnel †1842 English artillery officer

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Statistics for shrapnel

Last Updated

20 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for shrapnel

The first known use of shrapnel was in 1806

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More Definitions for shrapnel



English Language Learners Definition of shrapnel

: small metal pieces that scatter outwards from an exploding bomb, shell, or mine


shrap·​nel | \ ˈshrap-nᵊl How to pronounce shrapnel (audio) \

Kids Definition of shrapnel

: small metal pieces that scatter outwards from an exploding bomb, shell, or mine

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More from Merriam-Webster on shrapnel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shrapnel

Spanish Central: Translation of shrapnel

Nglish: Translation of shrapnel for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about shrapnel

Comments on shrapnel

What made you want to look up shrapnel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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