shoul·der | \ˈshōl-dər \

Definition of shoulder 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the laterally projecting part of the human body formed of the bones and joints with their covering tissue by which the arm is connected with the trunk

b : the region of the body of nonhuman vertebrates that corresponds to the shoulder but is less projecting

2a : the two shoulders and the upper part of the back usually used in plural

b shoulders plural : capacity for bearing a task or blame placed the guilt squarely on his shoulders

3 : a cut of meat including the upper joint of the foreleg and adjacent parts — see lamb illustration

4 : the part of a garment at the wearer's shoulder

5 : an area adjacent to or along the edge of a higher, more prominent, or more important part: such as

a(1) : the part of a hill or mountain near the top

(2) : a lateral protrusion or extension of a hill or mountain

b : either edge of a roadway specifically : the part of a roadway outside of the traveled way

6 : a rounded or sloping part (as of a stringed instrument or a bottle) where the neck joins the body


shouldered; shouldering\ˈshōl-d(ə-)riŋ \

Definition of shoulder (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to push or thrust with or as if with the shoulder : jostle shouldered his way through the crowd

2a : to place or bear on the shoulder shouldered her knapsack

b : to assume the burden or responsibility of shoulder the blame

intransitive verb

: to push with or as if with the shoulders aggressively

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Other Words from shoulder


shouldered \ˈshōl-dərd \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for shoulder

Synonyms: Verb

accept, assume, bear, take over, undertake

Antonyms: Verb

disavow, disclaim, disown, repudiate

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Examples of shoulder in a Sentence


He rested the baby's head on his shoulder. He grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. She carried a backpack on one shoulder. The horse is five feet high at the shoulder. We had pork shoulder for dinner.


He shouldered the blame for the project's failure. The company will shoulder the costs of the repairs. She shouldered the full burden of raising three children. He shouldered the door open. She shouldered through the crowd. She shouldered her way through the crowd. The soldiers shouldered their rifles and marched away.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Traffic gridlock and smoke and flames on both sides of the highway prompted some travelers to try to turn around and drive away from the fire along the shoulder, according to a video shared on Twitter. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "Fire that shut down I-580 at Altamont Pass now contained," 9 July 2018 There is also black trimming around the ends of the arms and the three 'adidas stripes' along the shoulders., "Not Impressed: Man Utd Fans React to New Home Shirt as Fresh Images Appear to Confirm Design," 8 July 2018 Many end up parking along the shoulders of the highway. Martin E. Comas,, "New sensors alert truckers to open spaces on I-4 rest area in Seminole, others on I-95," 27 June 2018 In his two starts since returning from right shoulder impingement, Ureña has a 1.69 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings as the Marlins beat the Rays and Brewers. Matthew Defranks,, "Preview: Phillies at Marlins, Sunday, 1:10 p.m.," 14 July 2018 His motorcycle drove up the shoulder before hitting a drainage pipe, troopers said. Michael Williams,, "Motorcyclist killed in high-speed Osceola crash, troopers say," 13 July 2018 From there, the trail angles towards Wasson, hugging first one side of the high shoulder and then the other. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "10 best hikes in Arizona show off state's diverse scenery," 13 July 2018 Grande, 25, joined him and the boys for the impromptu photoshoot soon — jumping on Davidson’s shoulders in a series of snaps both also shared online. Dave Quinn,, "Bye, SNL! Pete Davidson Has a 'New Job' — as a Backup Dancer for Ariana Grande," 12 July 2018 Another shows Hailey hugging Justin, looking wistfully over his shoulder. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber Posted and Deleted Instagrams of Hailey Baldwin in a Hot Tub," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Half of that amount—530,000 barrels a day—could be shouldered by Saudi Arabia, with rest coming from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "To Head Off Rising Crude Prices, It May Take More Than Calls for More Oil," 1 July 2018 The international aid group said Wednesday that Jordan, which already hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrians, cannot be expected to shoulder the burden alone. Fox News, "The Latest: Syria says it expelled IS from eastern desert," 28 June 2018 Without this system, those costs would be shouldered by customers remaining with the utilities, which isn’t fair or economically sustainable. Michael Hiltzik,, "Consumer choice has suddenly revolutionized the electricity business in California. But utilities are striking back," 8 June 2018 That proposal seems to be going nowhere, but the transportation experts participating in the APTA conference call said the burden for transportation funding is already being shouldered by states and municipalities. Jason Laughlin,, "What's our aging transportation infrastructure costing the economy?," 18 May 2018 Last year, the Vikings allowed roughly five runs per game, putting too much stress and strain on an offense shouldered by Howard County Times baseball Player of the Year Jack Schroeder. Kyle Mcfadden, Howard County Times, "Mt. Hebron baseball slugs its way past Long Reach, 10-1," 4 Apr. 2018 Much of the drug cost will be shouldered by pharmaceutical companies. Susan Jaffe, Washington Post, "Lifting Therapy Caps Proves A Load Off Medicare Patients’ Shoulders," 14 Mar. 2018 With Colson sidelined, more will need to be shouldered by Farrell, Colson’s roommate since freshman year who had grown into a costarring role. Dan Greene,, "Notre Dame Faces Tough Challenge Without Bonzie Colson and His Expertise in Exceeding Expectations," 8 Jan. 2018 Since then, Boulder has lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue that Xcel would have paid for renewing the contract and shouldered millions more in legal fees and other costs. Justin Worland/pueblo, Time, "How One Industrial City Is Fighting to Go Green," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shoulder.' 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 shoulder


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for shoulder


Middle English sholder, from Old English sculdor; akin to Old High German scultra shoulder

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Statistics for shoulder

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shoulder

The first known use of shoulder was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for shoulder



English Language Learners Definition of shoulder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the part of your body where your arm is connected

: the part of an animal's body where a front leg is connected

: a cut of meat from the shoulder of an animal



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

: to deal with or accept (something) as your responsibility or duty

: to push (something) with your shoulder

: to move forward by pushing through something with the shoulders


shoul·der | \ˈshōl-dər \

Kids Definition of shoulder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the part of the body of a person or animal where the arm or foreleg joins the body

2 : the part of a piece of clothing that covers a person's shoulder

3 : a part that resembles a person's shoulder in shape the shoulder of a hill

4 : the edge of a road


shouldered; shouldering

Kids Definition of shoulder (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to push with the shoulder He shouldered his way through the crowd.

2 : to accept as a burden or duty You must shoulder the blame.


shoul·der | \ˈshōl-dər \

Medical Definition of shoulder 

1 : the laterally projecting part of the human body formed of the bones and joints with their covering tissue by which the arm is connected with the trunk

2 : the two shoulders and the upper part of the back usually used in plural

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Comments on shoulder

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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