semantic shift: "shrapnel"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 18 21:05:25 UTC 2010

To me, too.


On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 2:26 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      semantic shift: "shrapnel"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> CNN reported this morning that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in Haiti, operated on a
> "12-year-old girl with shrapnel in her brain."
> Much later CNN identified the "shrapnel" as "a small piece of concrete."
> Usage note: OED 1989 defines shrapnel (in the broad and now usual sense) as
> "fragments from shells or bomb."  The extension to bits of metal hurled out
> in any kind of explosion (say, that of a grain elevator) would also seem
> normal to me, though clearly "literary."  CNN, however,  is using the
> word with no suggestion of metal or explosion, and this seems to me very
> strange.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
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