Walking along the shore of your favorite beach, you stumble upon a perfectly finished shard of sea pottery. Or, is it a sherd? Apparently, while they are similar, and used interchangeably though “sherd” more rarely, there is a difference according to many references and more specifically, archaeologists. Sherd is actually a brief from of “potsherd,” defined as a broken piece of ceramic material, especially one found on an archaeological site.
Meriam-Webster explains, “English speakers have adopted the modernized ‘shard’ spelling for most uses, but archeologists prefer to spell the word ‘sherd’ when referring to the ancient fragments of pottery they unearth.”
In general, “sherd” only refers to pieces or fragments of pottery whereas “shard” may refer to broken bits of glass, metal, rock, and ceramics.