During the American Civil War, soldiers would not only shoot cannonballs but would also shoot case shot from cannons which was a hollow shell filled with shrapnel used specifically to target soldiers.
A piece of metal that flies off an explosive device and injures a soldier is an example ofshrapnel.
- an artillery shell filled with an explosive charge and many small metal balls, designed to explode in the air over the objective
- the balls scattered by such an explosion
- any fragments scattered by an exploding shell, bomb, etc.
Origin of shrapnelafter H. Shrapnel (1761-1842), British general who invented it
- Fragments from an exploded artillery shell, mine, or bomb.
- a. A 19th-century artillery shell containing metal balls, designed to explode in the air above enemy troops.b. The metal balls in such a weapon.
Origin of shrapnelAfter Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), British army officer
- A collective term for shot, fragments, or debris thrown out by an exploding shell or landmine.
- (slang) Loose change.
- debris caused by action of persons or animals.
- The dog did not eat my sandwich. It was in a bag. If he had eaten my sandwich, there'd be shrapnel all over the place from him tearing open the bag.
From Henry Shrapnel, British army officer who invented an anti-personnel shell that transported a large number of bullets to the target before releasing them, at a far greater distance than rifles could fire the bullets individually. The surname is likely a metathesised form of Charbonnel, a diminutive of Old French "charbon" (charcoal) in reference to hair colour, complexion, or the like.