shell shock

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See also: shellshock and shell-shock


Alternative forms[edit]


shell shock (countable and uncountable, plural shell shocks)

  1. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see shell,‎ shock.
    • 1967, Bernard Share, Inish, page 99,
      The other was to go on, to the next drink or the bed or the grass outside, where the party-noises ebbed and flowed like shell-shocks and the Southern Cross burnt crookedly above.
  2. (figuratively) A stunning shock.
    • 2004, Edgar Lee Masters, Barrett Bays, Domesday Book, page 322,
      " [] Think of me / With all these psychic shell shocks — first the war, / Its great emotions, then this Elenor."
    • 2011, Roberta Brandes Gratz, The Battle for Gotham, page 21,
      But while malls kllled much of downtown America, they only partially injured New York City. The density of this city guaranteed a less dramatic impact than the shell shocks that crippled so many other cities.
  3. (uncountable) A psychiatric condition characterized by fatigue caused by battle.
  4. A person with the condition.
    • 1920, Phillip Gibbs, Now It Can Be Told, 2009, page 350,
      I passed through the shell-shock wards and a yard where the "shell-shocks" sat about, dumb, or making queer, foolish noises, or staring with a look of animal fear in their eyes.
    • 1943, Arthur Graham Butler, The Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918, Volume 3, page 107,
      Of the 79 officer casualties 10 were "shell-shocks", or about 12 per cent, of the whole. Of the 10 shell-shocks 4 were sent to C.C.S. and 6 to Corps Rest Station.
    • 2004, Susan Zeiger, In Uncle Sam's Service: Women Workers with the American Expeditionary Force, 1917—1919, page 131,
      Most nurses found the helplessness of "the shell shocks" painful and "pitiful."


Related terms[edit]

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shell shock (third-person singular simple present shell shocks, present participle shell shocking, simple past and past participle shell shocked)

  1. To stun or debilitate as by a shock.
    • 1919, Bulletin of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, Issues 148-152, page xx,
      It was General du Pont's 'forty-five' which bellowed and thundered and echoed through Fifth avenue, scaring horses and shell shocking pedestrians.
    • 1999, Brother Gilbert (Phillip F. Cairnes), Harry Rothgerber (editor), Young Babe Ruth, page 146,
      The crack of the home run that the batsman cherishes shell-shocks the nerves of the pitcher who threw it.
    • 2008, Linda Mi-Suk Enos, The Korean Palace of Honolulu, Condensed (6 x 9) Version, page 462,
      Silently Melissa listened to her mother as she softly convincingly spoke the raw naked truth the best way she knew how without shell shocking the girl.
    • 2010, John E. Shephard, Jr, Cottage Lake Soliloquy, page 10,
      Barry sounded lighter, his spirits lifting slightly from the shell shocking humiliation and helplessness he'd been feeling.

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