also bomb-shell, 1708, from bomb (n.) + shell (n.). The figurative sense of "shattering or devastating thing or event" attested from 1860. In reference to a pretty woman "of startling vitality or physique" [OED], especially a blonde, it is attested by 1942. "Bombshell" as title of a movie starring blond U.S. actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937) is from 1933.
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