shrap·​nel | \ ˈshrap-nᵊl, 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

Wilansky sued the federal government in February, seeking access to shrapnel and clothing taken from her while she was hospitalized. Blake Nicholson, The Seattle Times, "Woman suing over protest injury lost earlier evidence battle," 27 Nov. 2018 In April 2001, when reporting on the Sri Lankan civil war, Marie lost her left eye after a grenade landed near her and shrapnel pierced her retina. Janine Di Giovanni, Town & Country, "Hollywood Chameleon Rosamund Pike Tackles the Life Story of War Correspondent Marie Colvin," 15 Nov. 2018 Pinfold’s experiment, at the $4 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is sifting through subatomic shrapnel for monopolar signatures, and scientists are also keeping their eyes peeled for cosmic monopoles falling from space. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 The four troopers were either hit by bullets or shrapnel and have all since received medical care and were released from the hospital, authorities said. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "4 Oklahoma troopers injured, suspect dead after shooting, fire, authorities say," 2 Oct. 2018 One soldier arrived riddled with shrapnel from an improvised explosive device. Jim Rendon, Marie Claire, "When Female Veterans Return Home," 29 Oct. 2018 Pictures in Libyan news outlets showed a mutilated corpse lying in the rubble of a house and a pair of shrapnel-ridden vehicles nearby. Eric Schmitt, New York Times, "American Drone Strike in Libya Kills Top Qaeda Recruiter," 28 Mar. 2018 Videos and photos circulated online showed shrapnel-riddled cars outside a severely damaged house. Fox News, "US says airstrike in Libya kills 2 militants," 25 Mar. 2018 The blast from a mid-air engine explosion on Southwest Flight 1380 sent shrapnel tearing through one of the plane's windows, causing the cabin to lose pressure. CBS News, "Photos from damaged Southwest flight show passengers not heeding safety directives," 20 Apr. 2018

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

12 Jan 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 \

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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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