\ˈshaŋk \

Definition of shank 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle in humans or the corresponding part in various other vertebrates

b : leg

c : a cut of beef, veal, mutton, or lamb from the upper or the lower part of the leg : shin — see beef illustration

2 : a straight narrow usually essential part of an object: such as

a : the straight part of a nail or pin

b : a straight part of a plant : stem, stalk

c : the part of an anchor between the ring and the crown — see anchor illustration

d : the part of a fishhook between the eye and the bend

e : the part of a key between the handle and the bit

f : the stem of a tobacco pipe or the part between the stem and the bowl

g : tang entry 1 sense 3

h(1) : the narrow part of the sole of a shoe beneath the instep

(2) : shankpiece

3 : a part of an object by which it can be attached: such as

a(1) : a projection on the back of a solid button

(2) : a short stem of thread that holds a sewn button away from the cloth

b : the end (as of a drill bit) that is gripped in a chuck

4a : the latter part of a period of time

b : the early or main part of a period of time 11 p.m. on the East coast is merely the shank of the evening on the West coast

5 slang : an often homemade knife


shanked; shanking; shanks

Definition of shank (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to hit (a golf ball or shot) with the extreme heel of the club so that the ball goes off in an unintended direction also : to kick (a football) in an unintended direction

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Other Words from shank


shanked \ ˈshaŋ(k)t \ adjective

Examples of shank in a Sentence


the shank of a drill bit slashed at the prison guard with a shank he had secretly made from a scrap of metal

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Rather, an entire World Cup cycle, and perhaps the legacy of the most gifted player of all time, was transformed by that one shank in Rio. Brian Straus,, "Quarterfinal Stage a Narrative Tipping Point for World Cup Contenders," 5 July 2018 Aside from a few bready soups (ribollita, pappa al pomodoro), thick steaks, boiled beans and a stew made by simmering beef shank with ungodly amounts of black pepper, few dishes immediately popped into mind. Jonathan Gold,, "Much of Italy disdains Tuscany's cooking, but Jonathan Gold revels in it," 30 Mar. 2018 After the inmate told the agent what happened, guards found two shanks during a search of Youngblood's cell, according to the warrant. Marie Simoneaux,, "Man awaiting murder trials at Orleans Parish jail stabs another inmate with a shank: warrant," 16 May 2018 For the ravenous, Von Trier makes a top-notch pork shank ($29), served with red cabbage and browned spätzle. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "International flavors, down at the corner bar, are an American experience," 3 July 2018 Menu highlights include brisket ravioli, Chilean sea bass, chicken shank, pan seared salmon, an 8-ounce filet, and choice of New York cheesecake, chocolate cake or carrot cake for dessert. Celestina Blok, star-telegram, "Restaurant roundup: Bartaco in WestBend, Newk's up north and deals for Dad's day," 6 June 2018 On the menu: Lamb, steak and seafood are restaurant specialties, with the customers’ favorite being the signature roast lamb shank served with roasted potatoes, says Chresanthakes. Joan Cary, Aurora Beacon-News, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Basil’s Greek Dining in Aurora," 8 July 2018 Or in the shank of a fine October in the midlands, with the year in quick decline. Charles W. Gusewelle, kansascity, "For Father’s Day, a favorite column from Charles Gusewelle: That miracle day," 16 June 2018 Along the way, however, all of the scaremongering and doomsday talk will provide marvelous motivations for Democratic base voters and donors heading into the shank of the midterm campaign season. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Dems face big loss, big opportunity with Kavanaugh," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Woods was 3 over after 12 holes, even shanking a ball out of the trees on the 11th hole — one of his four bogeys. Jesse Smithey, Detroit Free Press, "Masters 2018: Tiger Woods rallies to shoot 1-over in first round," 5 Apr. 2018 Olivier Giroud shanked a couple chances, hasn’t put a shot on target at this World Cup, gets crushed by fans and the press and still remains invaluable to Deschamps’ system. Brian Straus,, "Le Bleuprint: France Follows Familiar World Cup Path in Reaching Final," 10 July 2018 But Sane shanks the kick, and his attempt goes nowhere near the goal. Joel Petterson, New York Times, "Colombia Emerges From the World Cup Chaos, Booting Senegal," 29 June 2018 More: Tiger Woods at the Masters: Live score updates, highlights Woods drove his tee shot into trouble at the par-4 11th and appeared to have shanked his second shot into the gallery of patrons. Jesse Smithey, Detroit Free Press, "Masters 2018: Tiger Woods laboring in first round; Marc Leishman leads," 5 Apr. 2018 McIlroy, who laughed as the critter scampered about, eventually shanked his drive. Christopher Hanna,, "From Best Round To Top Moments, Here Are The 2018 Travelers Highlights," 25 June 2018 Niang shanked a golden opportunity in the 19th minute, after left back Youssouf Sabaly did fabulously to intercept a pass intended for Lukasz Piszczek, beat a defender one-on-one, then split the defense with a pass to his streaking forward. Avi Creditor,, "WATCH: Niang Seals Senegal's Win Over Poland on Bizarre Sequence," 19 June 2018 Kerber shanked a backhand off Williams’s return, and Williams had a chance to serve for the match. New York Times, "Tennis Needs Serena Williams Back. But Does She Need to Be Seeded?," 28 May 2018 Tassler was elegantly deflecting the request to comment on Silverman’s fall, while shanking him back for good measure. Newsweek, "Analysis," 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shank.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shank


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


1927, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shank


Middle English shanke, from Old English scanca; akin to Old Norse skakkr crooked, Greek skazein to limp

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Statistics for shank

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shank

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

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More Definitions for shank



English Language Learners Definition of shank

: the straight, narrow part of a tool that connects the part that does the work with the part that you hold

: a piece of meat cut from the upper part of the leg

: the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle


\ˈshaŋk \

Kids Definition of shank

1 : the part of the leg between the knee and ankle

2 : a cut of meat from the usually upper part of the leg a lamb shank

3 : the part of a tool that connects the working part with a part by which it is held or moved the shank of a drill bit


\ˈshaŋk \

Medical Definition of shank 

: the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle in humans or a corresponding part in other vertebrates

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Comments on shank

What made you want to look up shank? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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