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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Match your belt to your shoehorn, which should dangle from a gauge in your earlobe. Colin Stokes, The New Yorker, 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, 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, 28 June 2018 In the closet was a cane-size shoehorn topped with a silver dog’s head, Tom Wolfe-style. Anthony Flint,, 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, 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, 22 Dec. 2017 In between, the show shoehorns social media into as many segments as possible, with sometimes-cringeworthy results. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, 11 Oct. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Six hours may in fact not be a large enough canvas for all that the writers want to accomplish — especially their efforts to shoehorn observations about how policing has changed after Gray’s death in 2015. Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2022 In a particularly unfair turn, companies often shoehorn candidates with over 20 years of experience as being too set in their ways, Williams says, or hesitant to adapt or adjust. Jane Thier, Fortune, 23 Apr. 2022 Moreover, these super-sized condos came with amenities that would be difficult to shoehorn into the footprint of a townhouse, such as swimming pools, spas, and garage parking. John Walkup, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 Trying to shoehorn an hour-long weight training session into an already busy day while keeping up with all your other commitments isn’t likely to be feasible. Barnaby Lashbrooke, Forbes, 18 Jan. 2022 Managers went from trying to shoehorn Windows onto smartphones, servers and networked appliances to bringing its services to platforms of all types. Jon Markman, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 Why are writers and politicians today trying so hard to shoehorn the word existential into sentences? Peter Funt, WSJ, 1 Feb. 2022 No need to shoehorn ambitious and unsustainable resolutions into 2022 planning. Allison Hope, CNN, 16 Jan. 2022 Even with a field this small, players will have some trouble figuring out how to shoehorn Hot Rod Charlie into their exotics. Guy Martin, Forbes, 1 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of shoehorn


1589, in the meaning defined above


1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best walking shoes.

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

Dictionary Entries Near shoehorn




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for shoehorn

Cite this Entry

“Shoehorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for shoehorn


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


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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!