A common artillery term used in the military and in war zones has an interesting origin. Did you know that the term “shrapnel” is actually named after a real person?
Lt. Gen. Henry Shrapnel was a British artillery officer who in the late 1700s designed an artillery round with a fuse that when it exploded, threw round bullets at the enemy.
It wasn’t until 1803 that the British army adopted his new projectile, according to Wired, after it had shown its offensive capability against Napoleon’s army including at the Battle of Waterloo.
His design was so effective that it was used until the end of World War I. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, shrapnel caused the majority of artillery-inflicted wounds in that war.
By World War II, the use of high-explosives in projectiles fragmented the shell so well that eventually the shot inside was no longer necessary, according to Britannica. These shell fragments or other projectile debris are now commonly called shrapnel.