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

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Synonyms for shoehorn

Synonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 An image or phrase finds you, pleases you with its wit or vividness, shoehorns open your evolving vision of the fictive world, and before that change gets fully processed, here comes another. George Saunders, The New Yorker, "Grace Paley, the Saint of Seeing," 3 Mar. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It's not known to shy away from more power and bigger engines and has shoehorned the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 into a variety of production vehicles, like the Challenger, Charger, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Mihir Maddireddy, Car and Driver, "Did Dodge Just Confirm a Durango Hellcat?," 3 Feb. 2020 The result is a more serious drama shoehorned into an aspirational soap. Judy Berman, Time, "The L Word: Generation Q," 5 Dec. 2019 To an extent, the Post’s blunder rests in trying to shoehorn a nuanced phenomenon into its Pinocchio scale, which doesn’t much allow for shades of meaning. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Medical bankruptcy is an American scandal — and that’s not debatable," 4 Sep. 2019 Gerwig’s screenplay, ultimately, is about authorship itself and the ways that women have had to shoehorn their stories into acceptable forms across centuries. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "Oscars Spotlight: The Screenplays," 29 Jan. 2020 It was all shoehorned into a suitcase — an on-the-go vehicle by designer Don Buchla to amplify circuitry’s potential for serendipitous inspiration. Washington Post, "With analog Music Easels, Eternal Now paints a serendipitous aural landscape," 11 Nov. 2019 This is just one particularly ridiculous example of a recent trend amongst England manager’s of shoehorning in big-name players at the expense of a cohesive and defined tactical philosophy., "Gareth Southgate Is Right to Make James Maddison Wait for His First England Cap," 11 Sep. 2019 These topics become much more interesting when they can be shoehorned into that familiar template, where the Democratic figure is the victim or good guy and the one where the Republican figure is the bad guy. Jim Geraghty, National Review, "Warren’s Eager Defenders," 4 Dec. 2019 The script oscillates between the profound and tiresome, shoehorning in sweeping pronouncements, naked social commentary and tired platitudes. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "‘Queen & Slim’ is swaggering and devastating," 26 Nov. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of shoehorn


1589, in the meaning defined above


1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for shoehorn

Time Traveler

The first known use of shoehorn was in 1589

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Statistics for shoehorn

Cite this Entry

“Shoehorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for shoehorn


How to pronounce shoehorn (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on shoehorn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shoehorn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shoehorn

Spanish Central: Translation of shoehorn

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