\ ˈshag How to pronounce shag (audio) \

Definition of shag

 (Entry 1 of 7)

1a : a shaggy tangled mass or covering (as of hair)
b : long coarse or matted fiber, nap, or pile
c : a layered haircut of uneven length
2 : tobacco cut into fine shreds
3 : any of various waterbirds related to the cormorants also : cormorant sense 1

Definition of shag (Entry 2 of 7)

shagged; shagging

Definition of shag (Entry 3 of 7)

intransitive verb

: to fall or hang in shaggy masses

transitive verb

: to make rough or shaggy
shagged; shagging

Definition of shag (Entry 4 of 7)

transitive verb

chiefly British, informal + usually vulgar
: to have sexual intercourse with
shagged; shagging

Definition of shag (Entry 5 of 7)

transitive verb

1a : to chase after especially : to chase after and return (a ball) hit usually out of play
b : to catch (a fly) in baseball practice
2 : to chase away
shagged; shagging

Definition of shag (Entry 6 of 7)

intransitive verb

1 : to move or lope along
2 : to dance the shag

Definition of shag (Entry 7 of 7)

: any of various dances of the southern U.S. that employ lively footwork with a minimum of upper-body motion

First Known Use of shag

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1581, in the meaning defined above

Verb (1)

1596, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Verb (2)

1788, in the meaning defined above

Verb (3)

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (4)

1914, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1932, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shag

Noun (1)

Middle English *shagge, from Old English sceacga; akin to Old Norse skegg beard, skaga to project

Verb (2)

earlier argot, probably ultimately from Middle English shoggen, shaggen to shake — more at shog

Verb (3)

origin unknown

Verb (4)

variant of shog

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The first known use of shag was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Shag.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shag. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shag

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shag

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shag

Nglish: Translation of shag for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about shag

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