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 shouldering (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

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Other Words from shoulder


shouldered \ ˈshōl-​dərd How to pronounce shouldered (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With just 11 games remaining before the playoffs, the Yankees will welcome back their best starting pitcher after a long, frustrating saga that began with a shoulder injury and then was compounded by a mysterious latissimus dorsi ailment. James Wagner, New York Times, "Luis Severino Returns, but the Yankees’ Slew of Injuries Remains a Mystery," 17 Sep. 2019 With Tyreek Hill sidelined with a shoulder injury, Robinson became Patrick Mahomes’s favorite target against the Oakland secondary. Frankie Taddeo,, "Fantasy Football: Week 2 Sunday Superlatives," 16 Sep. 2019 Linebacker depth is thin at the moment for the Cougars with starter Terrance Edgeston day-to-day with a high-right ankle sprain and Jordan Carmouche out for the season with a shoulder injury. Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle, "Northwestern transfer Nathan Fox leaves UH's football program," 16 Sep. 2019 In injury news this afternoon, a couple of top-level running backs are listed as questionable: the Jets’ Le’Veon Bell and the Ravens’ Mark Ingram, both with shoulder injuries. Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 2: Last-minute moves," 15 Sep. 2019 Right tackle Korey Cunningham entered during the Pittsburgh opener when starter Marcus Cannon suffered a shoulder injury. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde10: Ten thoughts on Dolphins’ 43-0 loss to Patriots," 15 Sep. 2019 That task was made tougher since Oakland will be without rookie safety Johnathan Abram, the hard-hitting first-rounder who underwent surgery for a shoulder injury suffered in the season-opening win. Jon Becker, The Mercury News, "Live updates: Raiders fade, fall to Chiefs 28-10," 15 Sep. 2019 Saladino had been rehabbing a shoulder injury at the Brewers’ training facility in Phoenix. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 5, Cardinals 2: Homers by Moustakas and Grandal help the Brewers hand Flaherty a rare loss," 14 Sep. 2019 Hernandez, a 21-year-old Cuban, was 0-2 with a 3.90 ERA, 22 strikeouts and nine walks in 32 1/3 innings after a shoulder injury delayed his start to the year at Lake Elsinore. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Minors: Luis Torrens’ gains on defense, AFL adds, two playoff losses," 14 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the fourth quarter, Baker Mayfield’s pass intended for Beckham was picked off by safety Kevin Byard, but Mayfield shouldered the blame. Mary Kay Cabot,, "Odell Beckham Jr.: ‘We’ve got to have everybody stick with us’," 8 Sep. 2019 While the offensive line and the sensational Marlon Mack (25 rushes, for 174 yards, touchdown) shouldered much of the offensive load for most of the game. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Missed tackles, missed kicks cost Colts in 30-24 loss to Chargers," 8 Sep. 2019 The Army Corps will shoulder $13 million of the cost. Daniel Cusick, Scientific American, "Dorian Takes A Swipe at Beach Replenishment Projects," 6 Sep. 2019 Outside of the courthouse, Kostial’s friends stood shoulder to shoulder, holding signs in support of the St. Louis native. Diane Herbst,, "Lawyers for Ole Miss Student Accused of Killing Classmate Ask For Psychiatric Evaluation," 22 Aug. 2019 For the best local produce and recipes, head to the monumental Mercado de Atarazanas, a 19th-century hall filled with bustling crowds who stand shoulder to shoulder while ordering plates of Malagueño specialties. Stephen Connolly, National Geographic, "Beyond Barcelona: A weekend on Málaga’s magical coast," 6 Aug. 2019 Now, as the fallout continues from the midair fracas, the world will be watching to see whether Xi and Putin stand shoulder to shoulder in a military confrontation. Nathan Hodge, CNN, "Putin and Xi test a budding military alliance in the Pacific -- and step up confrontation," 23 July 2019 Early-risers crowded the north shore of the river, standing nearly shoulder to shoulder by 8 a.m to fish the hours surrounding the morning high tide. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaskans line the Kenai River’s mouth to dipnet for sockeye salmon," 20 July 2019 Manny and Stokes, in their 80s now, and retired from the department for decades, stood shoulder to shoulder with the others. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "A beat cop, a fateful shooting and the moments that shaped Phoenix's history," 17 July 2019

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

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for shoulder

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

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More Definitions for shoulder


How to pronounce shoulder (audio)

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 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

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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).


to spread as a report or rumor

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