shock (n.1)

1560s, "violent encounter of armed forces or a pair of warriors," a military term, from French choc "violent attack," from Old French choquer "strike against," probably from Frankish, from a Proto-Germanic imitative base (compare Middle Dutch schokken "to push, jolt," Old High German scoc "jolt, swing").

The general sense of "a sudden blow, a violent collision" is from 1610s. The meaning "a sudden and disturbing impression on the mind" is by 1705; the sense of "feeling of being (mentally) shocked" is from 1876.

The electrical sense of "momentary stimulation of the sensory nerves and muscles caused by a sudden surge in electrical current" is by 1746. The medical sense of "condition of profound prostration caused by trauma, emotional disturbance, etc." is by 1804 (it also once meant "seizure, stroke, paralytic shock" 1794).

Shock-absorber is attested from 1906 (short form shocks attested by 1961); shock wave is from 1907. Shock troops (1917), especially selected for assault work, translates German stoßtruppen and preserves the word's original military sense. Shock therapy is from 1917; shock treatment from 1938.

shock (n.2)

"sheaves of grain placed on-end and leaning against one another in a field, arranged so as to shed rain and allow the grain to dry," early 14c., shok, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English word or from Middle Low German schok "shock of corn," originally "group of sixty," from Proto-Germanic *skukka- (source also of Old Saxon skok, Dutch schok "sixty pieces; shock of corn;" German schock "sixty," Hocke "heap of sheaves"). The original sense of this is uncertain; perhaps it is connected to the source of shock (n.1) on the notion of being "thrown" together [Century Dictionary]. The English word in 16c.-17c. sometimes was a unit of tale meaning "60-piece lot," from trade with the Dutch.

shock (n.3)

"thick mass of hair," 1819, from earlier shock (adj.) "having thick hair" (1680s), and a 17c. noun meaning "lap-dog having long, shaggy hair" (1630s, also shock-dog), from shough (1590s), the name for this type of dog, which was said to have been brought originally from Iceland; the word is perhaps from the source of shock (n.2), or from an Old Norse variant of shag (n.). Shock-headed Peter was used in 19c. translations for German Struwwelpeter.

shock (v.1)

"to come into violent contact; strike against suddenly and violently," 1560s, literal senses now archaic or obsolete, from shock (n.1). The meaning "offend, displease, strike with indignation, horror, or disgust" is by 1650s. The meaning "to give (something) an electric shock" is from 1746.

shock (v.2)

"arrange (sheaves of grain) in a shock," mid-14c., shokken, from shock (n.2). Related: Shocked; shocking.

updated on August 25, 2022