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Once I listened to a song and there were some strange words that I can't understand. I have searched for the lyrics and found various results:

  1. My nervous system is shot all right.
  2. My nervous system is shut all right.

Which one is right? Is it an idiom? How could I better understand it, and what does it mean?

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1 Answer 1

There is an idiom; my nerves are shot to pieces, or similar wording. It refers to a state of being very nervous, lacking in confidence.

The derivation is from the First World War when soldiers who experienced trench warfare suffered from Shell Shock, a mental condition resulting in, amongst other things, extreme nervousness.

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OED's first citation for the relevant figurative usage is 1926 E. Hemingway Fiesta (1927) iii. xix. 277 That meant San Sebastian all shot to hell. But I found this from 1846: His nerves are shot away, — his spirits consumed, he must strike, and careen his shattered bark under the genial air and early hours. Whichever way you look at it, "derivation is from the First World War" seems unlikely. –  FumbleFingers Mar 28 at 16:27
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