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 The child victim’s sister, reportedly 6 or 7, was struck with shrapnel during the shooting but is expected to be fine, according to Lt. Christopher Cook. Gerren Keith Gaynor, Fox News, "Child shot in head by brother in Texas home, sister injured by shrapnel: report," 16 Sep. 2019 Children’s faces—bloody and studded with shrapnel—look down Ms Al-Kateab’s lens. J.w., The Economist, "“For Sama” is a love letter to Aleppo and its people," 12 Sep. 2019 The engine blowout sprayed shrapnel into the fuselage. Barbara Peterson, Popular Mechanics, "The Blown Engine on Southwest Flight 1380 Suffered "Tooth Decay"," 4 May 2018 At least 22 people worldwide have been killed and hundreds more permanently disfigured when the air bags that deployed to protect them exploded and sprayed shrapnel. Washington Post,, "10 years after Takata recall began, thousands of 'time bomb' air bags are still on the road," 23 Apr. 2018 Photos and footage posted to social media showed the aftermath of the apparent explosion, which sprayed shrapnel and caused a plane window to be blown out in a chilling episode that one passenger streamed live on Facebook. Faiz Siddiqui,, "Passenger dies after being partly sucked out of plane amid engine failure," 18 Apr. 2018 Flecks of heat shrapnel danced into the air with every adjustment as all three women squinted into the hot glow and moved their heads sideways attempting to escape the heat. Illyanna Maisonet,, "Making sausage an art in Puerto Rico, and a treasured memory in a California childhood," 23 Oct. 2019 Infections from tetanus precipitated a large swath of those deaths, triggered by shrapnel from fireworks and toy guns that got into a person's skin. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "The 1900s Movement to Make the Fourth of July Boring (But Safe)," 3 July 2019 Melnikoff, who fought with C Company, 175th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, was wounded twice in France, shot once in the upper chest and later injured by shrapnel from an artillery shell. Kevin Baxter,, "Women's World Cup notes: U.S. goalie Alyssa Naeher is the strong but silent type," 18 June 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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Time Traveler for shrapnel

Time Traveler

The first known use of shrapnel was in 1806

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Statistics for shrapnel

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Shrapnel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for shrapnel


How to pronounce shrapnel (audio)

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).


very cautious or careful

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