Trend Watch

Shrapnel

A civilian bystander was wounded in the Capitol shooting


Lookups for shrapnel spiked following the shooting at the U.S. Capitol on 3/28. A civilian bystander at the shooting received injuries from shrapnel.

capitol

The meaning of the word 'shrapnel' has changed over time.

Shrapnel means “small metal pieces that scatter outwards from an exploding shell, bomb, or mine” or “bomb, shell, or mine fragments,” which in this case may mean bullet fragments or metal struck by the bullets that then hit the victim.

Originally, shrapnel referred to a type of hollow artillery shell that contained small spherical bullets and an explosive charge to scatter the shot and fragments of the shell casing, using a timed fuse to explode the shell above enemy troops. The term came to be used for the shell-casing fragments as well. This kind of shell caused most of the artillery-inflicted wounds on soldiers during World War I.

A British artillery officer named Henry Shrapnel invented the exploding shell in the 1790s, and his name became the official designation of the projectile by the British Army in 1852.



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