shoe·​gaze ˈshü-ˌgāz How to pronounce shoegaze (audio)
variants or less commonly shoegazing
: melodic rock music typically characterized by heavily processed electric guitar and indistinct often distant-sounding vocals
The centrality of the guitar to the generic characteristics of shoegaze is articulated through a textural approach to the instrument that eschews traditional rock virtuosity in favor of the foregrounding of timbral qualities.Robert Strachan
Shoegaze is about capturing the … melancholia at the edge of existence, that too-stoned sense of being unmoored in the world.Cat Zhang
Their unique blend of sleepy vocals and disorienting guitars connected to armies of effects pedals became known as shoegazing, a term that stemmed from watching performers look down at their pedals while singing.Joseph Krebaum
… a dreamy, primarily instrumental piece that blurs late-eighties shoegazing with lo-fi electronica …Mike McGrath Bryan
often used before another noun
Frontman Emil Nikolaisen's flamboyant version of shoegaze pop squanders his and his co-vocalist sister's promising melodies with songs that drone on interminably.Mikael Wood
Released in the early '90s, the ShredMaster is a simple distortion pedal that packs a serious punch. It was also used by … My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields to help create the shoegaze band's massive wall of sound.Scott Wilson
My Bloody Valentine's' 'Loveless' was the magnum opus of the shoegazing genre …Clash Magazine (online)
shoegazer noun
plural shoegazers
Thurston Moore influenced a generation of noise-heads, from grunge rockers to shoegazers. Rolling Stone
… a loose collection of mop-topped British and Irish musicians who explored guitar textures, converted noise into dreamy melody and experimented with hip-hop beats made some of the most compelling music of their era. The British media dubbed the groups "shoegazers" for their introverted live shows and bashful, glamorously depressed posture. Scott Timberg
a shoegazer band
shoegazer rock

Examples of shoegaze in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pale Saints formed in Leeds in the late 1980s, originally playing jangly indie-pop before expanding, on their 1989 debut EP, Barging Into the Presence of God, into the more atmospheric sound that would come to be associated with dream-pop and shoegaze. Jazz Monroe, Pitchfork, 17 Apr. 2024 Slowdive These British rockers were among the leading figures on the shoegaze scene that did so much to shape the sound of British music in the early '90s. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, 31 Mar. 2024 Formed in New York in 1997, Interpol quickly rose to fame with their unique blend of post-punk, shoegaze and dark wave influences. Natalia Cano, Billboard, 1 Apr. 2024 Duster’s return demonstrates the way that shoegaze has morphed over time. Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork, 14 Dec. 2023 Powered by Will Anderson, the album is an exhilarating blend of driving indie and alt-rock, power-pop, and shoegaze. Spin Staff, SPIN, 12 Dec. 2023 The prolific, and anonymous, South Korean songwriter and producer combines shoegaze, post-rock, emo, ambient, and pop with bold originality—every song is a pixelated lightshow of live and electronic instrumentation. Pitchfork, 6 Dec. 2023 On Rat Saw God, the band reaches shoegaze transcendence, screamo heaven, and the kind of catharsis that leaves you exhausted in the most glorious way. Pitchfork, 6 Dec. 2023 Even when the words and guitars are stretched-out and smeared around, Hotline TNT’s music is immediate—shoegaze spiked with hooks that bring to mind power-pop heroes Teenage Fanclub or even early Foo Fighters. Quinn Moreland, Pitchfork, 23 Oct. 2023

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

Word History


shoe entry 1 + gaze entry 1, probably as back-formation from shoe-gazing or shoe-gazer

Note: The name allegedly originated in reference to performances of the British rock group Moose in 1991: "They [members of the group] inadvertently began the so-called 'shoegazing' movement, so dubbed because of the static nature of bands who focused on the floorboards instead of their audience, when [Russell] Yates [the group's vocalist] read lyrics taped to the floor." (The Guinness Who's Who of Indie New Wave Music, 2nd edition [Enfield, England, 1995], p. 239)

First Known Use

1991, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shoegaze was in 1991

Dictionary Entries Near shoegaze

Cite this Entry

“Shoegaze.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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