shoul·​der | \ ˈshōl-dər How to pronounce shoulder (audio) \

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 How to pronounce shoulder (audio) \

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

Other Words from shoulder


shouldered \ ˈshōl-​dərd How to pronounce shoulder (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for shoulder

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of shoulder in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Police said that, after an argument, Jones allegedly first shot his ex-girlfriend in the shoulder before going into a separate room, finding the 9-year-old, and killing her. Chris Harris,, 14 June 2022 Karinchak missed spring training with a strained muscle in his right shoulder. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 11 June 2022 Kimery was in the news in 2009 after a suspect who had barricaded himself in an apartment shot him in the shoulder, seriously wounding Kimery, who was working for the Conway Police Department at the time. Tess Vrbin, Arkansas Online, 11 June 2022 During a Thursday afternoon press briefing, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the responding trooper was shot in the shoulder. Sophie Reardon, CBS News, 10 June 2022 Officials said the suspect exchanged gunfire with a Maryland State Police trooper, who was injured in the shoulder. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, 10 June 2022 Green Bay cornerback Jaire Alexander — back for the first time since suffering an AC joint injury in his right shoulder in Week 4 — entered the game for what the Packers believed would be a pass. Rob Reischel, Forbes, 9 June 2022 In Brevard county on Friday night, an unknown vehicle driving westbound on State Road 520, Merritt Island Causeway, hit a bicyclist who was riding in the paved shoulder approaching the Hubert Humphrey Bridge, FHP said. Natalia Jaramillo, Orlando Sentinel, 5 June 2022 Buckeye Valley brought in Nolan Ralph, who hit Moore in the right shoulder with a pitch to force in one run. Mark Schmetzer, The Enquirer, 4 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After working consistently for so many years, what has the shift been like to lead a show and shoulder the responsibility? Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 June 2022 Consumer confidence, which has been sinking since last year as households shoulder the burden of higher prices, plunged to a new low in a report out Friday. New York Times, 10 June 2022 Carlson playing big minutes will take some pressure off of Keita, who is likely not ready yet to shoulder a huge load. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 June 2022 The Good News: God is here to shoulder your burdens. Martha Sorren, Woman's Day, 1 June 2022 Such financial buffers—that is, the ones that no one ever wishes for—don’t bring down the costs that the broader health care system has to shoulder. Time, 26 May 2022 The recall also represents a significant portion of Rivian’s production so far, and car companies typically shoulder the cost of making recall repairs. Ryan Felton, WSJ, 12 May 2022 Indeed, every area of the team could shoulder some blame as the Brewers lost their second consecutive series on their first three-city road trip of the season. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 May 2022 Our Congressperson will shoulder the heavy responsibilities of bringing federal money back home and championing the diverse interests of rural and urban Alaskans. Anchorage Daily News, 3 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for shoulder

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near shoulder



shoulder arm

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Statistics for shoulder

Last Updated

18 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shoulder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for shoulder


shoul·​der | \ ˈshōl-dər How to pronounce shoulder (audio) \

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 How to pronounce shoulder (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on shoulder

Nglish: Translation of shoulder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shoulder for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shoulder


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