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I lead workshops at the British Library, on literature, language, art, history, and the culture of the book. Author of Discovering Words, Discovering Words in the Kitchen, Evolving English Explored, Team Talk - sporting words & their origins, Trench Talk - the Language of the First World War (with Peter Doyle); How to Cure the Plague; The Finishing Touch. As an artist I work in performance, public engagement, and intervention using drawing, curating, text, changing things and embroidery.

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Shell shock and trench coat

Corrections to this post, as the dates were wrong

An advertisement for Phosferine in The Sphere 23 October 1915 (not 1914, as previously proposed): Phospherine is stated as being good for ‘nervous exhaustion and stunning of senses caused by shell shock’.


What is interesting about 'shell shock' is that the term here is not used for the physiological condition but the cause of the physiological condition - the shock of the shell causes the nervous exhaustion and stunning of the senses, the neurological condition that later would be called 'shell-shock'. 

The (now) earliest recorded use of 'trench coat' was in Punch on 23 December 1914, in an advertisement for Thresher and Glenny: 'Shell made of hard khaki drill, lined sheepskin, and a special interlining, rendering it absolutely waterproof
Wind, wet and mud resisting.'

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