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Smithereens

Smithereens is a word that is always rendered in the plural form. Smithereens is only seen in the singular form, smithereen, when used for comic effect. We will look at the meaning of smithereens, some phrases where the word is often used, its origins and some examples of its use in sentences.

Smithereens means tiny bits, shattered fragments. The word smithereens is often seen in the phrases blow, blew, blowing or blown to smithereens, and smash, smashes, smashing or smashed to smithereens. The word smithereens can be traced back to the Irish Gaelic word smidirin, which is a diminutive of the word smiodar, which means piece or fragment. The suffix -een was tacked on as an additional diminutive. Smithereens appears at the beginning of the nineteenth century, with the variant spellings smiddereens and shivereens appearing at about the same time. Today, only the spelling smithereens has survived.

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Examples

A security drill saw mannequins blown to smithereens in a frightening city centre anti-terrorism exercise. (The Mirror)

When Russian warplanes swooped down on a United Nations convoy trying to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians near Aleppo last week, they did not just blow to smithereens 20 innocent people and desperately needed supplies – they also demolished the already-tattered shards of United States policy in Syria. (The National)

Moments before the interview, watching a 22-minute clip in Lee’s viewing room, the experience was like being drawn into the scene, sans movie screen to witness the mortar cannon in front of me blow the retaining wall to my left to smithereens, while the comrade to my right broke out in sweat, veins bulging in his face. (Taiwan Today)

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