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The term bombshell is a forerunner to the term "sex symbol" and originally used to describe popular female sex icons. Modern usage refers to a bombshell as an extremely sexually attractive woman. The Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper attests the usage of the term in this general meaning since 1942, although earlier Jean Harlow was so nicknamed.
After Jean Harlow, other icons of popular culture who have widely been referred to as a "Bombshell" include Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Diana Dors, Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, Jane Russell, Ava Gardner, Brigitte Bardot, Kim Novak, Sophia Loren, Ann-Margret, Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress, and, in more recent times, Britney Spears, and Dita Von Teese.
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