Hugo provided evidence from January 1915.
The first study of shell shock was written in 1915 by Charles Samuel Myers, a psychologist who was commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War. Our first quotation for shell shock is the title of Myers’s article:
A contribution to the study of shell shock.
1915 Charles Samuel Myers in Lancet 13 Feb., p. 316/2 (title)
But some accounts suggest that Myers did not invent the term; that it was already in use at the front and Myers merely popularized it (and regretted it: in a later book he described shell shock as a ‘singularly ill-chosen term’). Is there written evidence of shell shock before Myers’s article?
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To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War (1914–18), the OED is revising a set of vocabulary related to or coined during the war. Part of the revision process involves searching for earlier or additional evidence, and for this we need your help. Our first quotations are often from newspapers and magazines, and we know that there may well be earlier evidence in less-easily-accessible sources such as letters, diaries, and government records, many of which are now being made available in digital form for the first time.
Posted by OED_Editor on 27 January 2014 16.31