shoe·​horn | \ ˈshü-ˌhȯrn How to pronounce shoehorn (audio) \

Definition of shoehorn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a curved piece (as of horn, wood, or metal) used in putting on a shoe


shoehorned; shoehorning; shoehorns

Definition of shoehorn (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to force to be included or admitted shoehorned irrelevant arguments into his essay
2 : to force or compress into an insufficient space or period of time : squeeze shoehorn the past, present, and future into about 500 pages— Otis Port

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for shoehorn

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of shoehorn in a Sentence

Verb A parking garage has been shoehorned between the buildings. She's trying to shoehorn a year's worth of classes into a single semester. I don't know how they managed to shoehorn everyone into that little room.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Match your belt to your shoehorn, which should dangle from a gauge in your earlobe. Colin Stokes, The New Yorker, "Style Rules You Must Never Break," 20 Apr. 2020 But the weapons in our bedroom were limited to a shoehorn, a flattening iron and a stack of hardcover books. John Kelly, Washington Post, "I thought I was alone in the house, then I heard a bump. Or did I?," 1 July 2018 But this documentary feature is fascinating and infuriating in unequal parts, the latter far outweighing the former, since Mr. Jarecki’s instrument is a shoehorn. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The King’ Review: A Documentary That’s All Shook Up," 28 June 2018 In the closet was a cane-size shoehorn topped with a silver dog’s head, Tom Wolfe-style. Anthony Flint,, "In the lap of luxury in Lenox, at the reborn Blantyre," 6 June 2018 Students used shoehorns and grapefruit knives to detach screens and squirm out windows, or stumbled out a basement exit into the stabbing cold. New York Times, "Never Solved, a College Dorm Fire Has Become One Man’s Obsession," 13 Apr. 2018 But what makes this shoehorn special is its length—30 inches—which allows its 6-foot 3-inch owner to put on the snuggest of loafers without sitting or bending down. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "The Quest for Intuitive Design," 22 Dec. 2017 In between, the show shoehorns social media into as many segments as possible, with sometimes-cringeworthy results. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "Here's why MTV's 'TRL' reboot is totally, really lame," 11 Oct. 2017 The Polynesian-themed bash shoehorns tropical drinks, Tiki art, surf rock, go-go dancers and an assorted of things for sale into one flea market. John Petkovic,, "Tiki Underground bar and restaurant to host Tu Tiki flea market (photos)," 14 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Don’t start with a product in mind: instead of thinking about how to shoehorn an existing product into a customer segment, start with first principles. Alex Lazarow, Forbes, "Fintech Innovation Done Right: Be A Creator," 28 Feb. 2021 San Francisco has the third smallest lot sizes in the United States — averaging 2,700 square feet — which doesn’t allow much room to shoehorn four units. J.k. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bay Area cities want to end single-family home zoning, but will it create more housing?," 28 Feb. 2021 Somehow, even with all this content, the producers are able to shoehorn in a Kenya and Marlo reconciliation moment. Chris Murphy, Vulture, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta Recap: How Bolo Can You Go?," 21 Feb. 2021 But lawmakers have bristled at a full-scale repeal — and at the administration’s attempts to shoehorn it into the defense bill. Washington Post, "Trump’s threat to veto defense bill over social-media protections is heading to a showdown with Congress," 2 Dec. 2020 Other disagreements between the two parties ranged from whether businesses should be immune from coronavirus liability lawsuits and Democratic attempts to shoehorn a tax cut for high-income residents of high-tax states into the bill. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Trump’s Treasury pulls the plug on pandemic relief loans," 20 Nov. 2020 But there’s just something about trying to shoehorn in a college football season that seems decidedly unessential. Ann Killion,, "As coronavirus surges, Stanford and Cal remain in Pac-12 football limbo," 12 Nov. 2020 Starting later than every Bowl Subdivision conference means the Pac-12 will be trying to shoehorn seven games into a seven-week schedule during a time where COVID-19 cases have forced cancellations and postponements in other parts of the country. Erick Smith, USA TODAY, "Ranking the best Pac-12 games of the conference's opening weekend," 7 Nov. 2020 There is the inclination when reading harrowing tales of social significance to subconsciously shoehorn them onto a timeline, to examine tensions, recall headlines, to categorize details into cultural and political contexts. Christine Brunkhorst Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Somewhere in the Unknown World,' by Kao Kalia Yang," 6 Nov. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of shoehorn


1589, in the meaning defined above


1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shoehorn

Time Traveler for shoehorn

Time Traveler

The first known use of shoehorn was in 1589

See more words from the same year

Statistics for shoehorn

Cite this Entry

“Shoehorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shoehorn



English Language Learners Definition of shoehorn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a curved device that you use to slide the heel of your foot into a shoe



English Language Learners Definition of shoehorn (Entry 2 of 2)

: to force (something or someone) into a small space, a short period of time, etc.


shoe·​horn | \ ˈshü-ˌhȯrn How to pronounce shoehorn (audio) \

Kids Definition of shoehorn

: a curved piece (as of metal) to help in sliding the heel of the foot into a shoe

More from Merriam-Webster on shoehorn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shoehorn

Comments on shoehorn

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!