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shoe·​horn ˈshü-ˌhȯrn How to pronounce shoehorn (audio)
: a curved piece (as of horn, wood, or metal) used in putting on a shoe


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shoehorned; shoehorning; shoehorns

transitive verb

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Other useful features include an interior mesh pocket, which can be used for storing accessories (socks, heel pads, shoehorns, etc.) and a top handle for easy transportation. Amy Louise Bailey, Travel + Leisure, 13 Oct. 2023 Marino honored Peninsula must-haves, like enormous walk-in dressing rooms with full sartorial knickknacks—who doesn’t need a shoehorn? Linda Laban, Robb Report, 12 Sep. 2023 In memory care units, anything can become a weapon — toilet plungers, shoehorns, electric razors, TV remotes, metal trash grabbers and walking canes. Sahana Jayaraman,, 27 June 2023 Steele needs to stay at right tackle, not switch positions in some effort to keep Tyler Smith at left tackle and shoehorn Tyron Smith in at right tackle. David Moore, Dallas News, 4 Apr. 2023 It was born in a shoehorn. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, 1 June 2021 The other type of flat whisk looks like a balloon whisk that has had its tines flattened between the pages of a heavy book and slightly bent at the tip, like a shoehorn. Genevieve Yam, Bon Appétit, 28 Sep. 2022 Yet there’s something seductive about their ease: No laborious lace tying, certainly no shoehorn needed. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 30 Aug. 2022 In his autobiography, her friend Hughes would recount a time when, mid-party, A’Lelia started to cry about an ex-husband, retreating to her room and cradling a gold shoehorn her former lover had left her with. Mayukh Sen, Bon Appétit, 14 Oct. 2021
Kashyap shoehorned into the script thinly veiled criticism of Indian politicians’ coziness with billionaire industrialists and the government’s handling of the pandemic. Anant Gupta, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2023 As such, many households are now having to shoehorn payments that are hundreds of dollars in size into already snug monthly budgets. Alicia Wallace, CNN, 11 Oct. 2023 Where most lawmakers try to shoehorn into history books based on novel legislation, longevity in their seats, or being masterful deal makers, Gaetz seemed to be chasing little more than sheer celebrity. Philip Elliott, TIME, 4 Oct. 2023 Vivek Ramaswamy, who is still introducing himself to voters, shoehorned in some of his biography. Annie Linskey, WSJ, 28 Sep. 2023 Today, however, the A.P. test score is the alpha and omega of students’ experience with A.P. coursework, with lesson plans and pacing shoehorned into test-preparation packages dictated by the College Board. Aaron R. Hanlon, The New Republic, 6 Sep. 2023 Even those who accurately diagnose the problem are trying to solve it by shoehorning AI into existing or historical governance frameworks. Ian Bremmer and Mustafa Suleyman, Foreign Affairs, 16 Aug. 2023 As its sub-par performances at the World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics showed, the USWNT needs an exceptional tactician who will utilize his or her players’ strengths rather than trying to shoehorn them into a specific system. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, 17 Aug. 2023 So often in musical theater today, showstoppers seem shoehorned into the story. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 3 July 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


1589, in the meaning defined above


1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shoehorn was in 1589

Dictionary Entries Near shoehorn

Cite this Entry

“Shoehorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a curved piece (as of metal) to help in putting on a shoe
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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