Shell-shocked is an idiom that is about 100 years old. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom shell-shocked, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Shell-shocked describes someone who is mentally confused or upset; someone who is shell-shocked is highly stressed and has been stunned by a difficult circumstance or occurrence. For instance, someone who has been suddenly fired from his position may be shell-shocked. Shell-shocked is also used in a literal sense to mean someone who suffers from shell shock, a post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by those who have seen combat. The expression shell-shocked is derived from the term shell shock that was coined by Charles Samuel Myers to describe a type of battle fatigue experienced by soldiers who fought in World War I; it is derived from the intense trench fighting using mortar shells in World War I. Shell-shocked is a hyphenated compound word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, though it is sometimes seen rendered as one word, shellshocked.


People reports that Prince Charles is having a hard time dealing with the fallout between Harry and the rest of the royals, with a friend saying he is “shell-shocked by it all” and that “he is very hurt and upset.” (Cosmopolitan)

The fans gave the home team a one-goal lead and at that point we were a little bit shell-shocked,” Martinez told reporters after a match which included a minute’s applause for Eriksen in the 10th minute. (Jakarta Post)

Mr Dixon said: “We are just shell-shocked and utterly devastated that our funny, beautiful daughter is not with us anymore. (Manchester Evening News)

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