sha·​mus ˈshä-məs How to pronounce shamus (audio)
slang : police officer

Examples of shamus in a Sentence

a hard-bitten L.A. shamus who, when he's not battling crooks, is locking horns with his superiors he's a shamus who mostly finds evidence to use in divorce cases
Recent Examples on the Web When the franchise was rejuvenated in 2000 with Samuel L. Jackson starring as the nephew of the famed shamus, Roundtree appeared as his uncle. Chris Koseluk, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2019 Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard was one in a long line of LA shamuses tripped up by wealth and beauty, from Marlowe and Gittes to Rawlins and Bosch. Wired, 1 Nov. 2019 With Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright back at the creative helm (and The Hollywood Reporter columnist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the writing staff), the season picks up with Veronica (Bell) still working as a shamus in her SoCal hometown of Neptune. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 July 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shamus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


perhaps from Yiddish shames shammes; from a jocular comparison of the duties of a sexton and those of a store detective

First Known Use

1925, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shamus was in 1925

Dictionary Entries Near shamus

Cite this Entry

“Shamus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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