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

At least 22 deaths and more than 290 injuries worldwide are linked to Takata inflators that can explode, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks. Free Press Staff Report, Detroit Free Press, "Automakers lagging on Takata airbag fixes; feds push for a meeting," 14 May 2018 Riordan was sitting next to the window that was hit by shrapnel after the plane’s engine exploded, the Associated Press reported. Caitlin Keating,, "Hero Pilot Who Landed Deadly Southwest Flight Was One of Navy's First Female Fighter Pilots," 18 Apr. 2018 Three Green Berets and 27 Afghans were killed, and every man was wounded, including Amerine, who took shrapnel in his leg. Michael Ames, Newsweek, "Why Is the FBI Trying to Bury a Special Forces War Hero?," 2 Sep. 2015 Domino just makes the subtext into text, miraculously surviving car crashes and walking through hails of shrapnel unscathed. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The best superhero stories admit that superheroes are ridiculous," 11 July 2018 Social media has exposed the shrapnel of the adversarial relationship our country sometimes requires between our politicians and the press. Greg Burton, azcentral, "Threats and attacks on journalists aren't rare. They also don't deter us.," 30 June 2018 The victim told police one of the suspects pointed a gun at the victims and shot it into the ground, kicking up shrapnel that injured one person's leg, records said. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Drug deal gone bad leads to shots fired, pistol whipping in Oak Creek," 13 June 2018 The man suffered minor injuries from shattered glass and shrapnel, according to police. Lavendrick Smith, charlotteobserver, "He's accused of killing a Charlotte driver. It wasn't the first time he shot at a car, cops say," 12 June 2018 The Arc Reactor powers that exoskeleton and also keeps the shrapnel out of Tony Stark’s heart, very literally keeping him alive. Karen Turner, Vox, "Avengers: Infinity War’s superheroes, explained by an evolutionary biologist," 27 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

2 Nov 2018

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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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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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