sliver/ splinters of glass

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
I just did searches for "splinters of glass" and "slivers of glass" under Google images. It seems there isn't much difference between the two, though "splinters of glass" returned more related broken glass images than "slivers of glass". What would you think if "splinters" was replaced with "slivers" in the following example?

Example
: It sailed neatly over the bed, crashing to the floor like an entire crockery set smashing, glass flying in so many directions she could see some of the splinters from where she stood. From the other side of the door came a startled oath, followed by quick footsteps.

Source: Timepiece , Heather Albano

Background: Elizabeth's companions were held captive by a group of British soldiers in the cellar of a tavern they had taken over. She sneaked into one of the rooms through the window and retrieved her companions' belongings. There was a standing guard outside with the key to the cellar. In order to get to him for the key, she threw a lamp on the floor to make him come in, and then slammed a chloroform-soaked handkerchief over his nose.
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    My impression is that splinters are usually quite small and skinny while a sliver is skinny but of any size (a sliver of cake, a sliver of land).
    I find that sentence odd for at least two reasons, but the one pertinent to the question is that a lamp would not break into just splinter-like pieces and the splinter-like pieces (the smaller pieces) would not be the most likely ones for her to see from across the room.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The two words are the same to all intents and purposes; in my mind, I see a sliver as not being as thick or as wide as a splinter - but there is no justification for that anywhere. :)
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    To me, there's some difference depending on the material involved: Wood breaks into splinters, pottery into shards, glass into slivers.

    Maybe it's just me. :eek:
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    May I draw the conclusion that it all comes down to personal preference? I pick up a shard of glass and ram through your throat. A sliver of wood buried in my skin. Do they all work to you?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I pick up a shard of glass and ram through your throat. A sliver of wood buried in my skin. Do they all work to you?
    A shard can be any shape at all as long as it's "flat-ish" in one dimension like a triangular piece of a vase. A sliver is thin in two dimensions like a needle. Any piece of broken glass is probably sharp. Random pieces of wood are probably not sharp.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Despite my earlier reaction, shared by SDGraham (posts #4 and #6), I have seen several TV news reports of the meteor that exploded over Russia on Friday. There were apparently no deaths, fortunately, but a major effect was shattered windows, and a thousand people were said to have been injured by "shards of glass". This word was used by a number of newscasters.
     
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