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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In about the sixth inning, a middle-aged couple sitting behind the group in Section 126, along the third-base line, tapped Callan on the shoulder, and offered him a ball. Emiliano Tahui Gómez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 June 2021 These all-in-one pieces have the details of some of your favorite midi-dresses—say, a romantic puff sleeve, a back revealing halter neck, or drapey, off-the-shoulder sleeves—while elegantly reaching great floor lengths. Madeline Fass, Vogue, 2 June 2021 The teen opted for a pink tulle A-line dress that features an off-the-shoulder sheer overlay and a satin belt. Hanna Flanagan,, 2 June 2021 Yang patted Zheng on the shoulder and then, with his permission, took his story to the media. Washington Post, 1 June 2021 The case involved a traffic stop in 2016 in which Officer James Saylor of the Crow Tribe Police Department came upon a pickup truck with its headlights on and motor running, parked on the shoulder of U.S. Route 212., 1 June 2021 In February 2016, a Crow tribal officer patrolling the U.S. highway that leads to Little Bighorn saw a pickup truck, engine running, parked on the shoulder. Jess Bravin, WSJ, 1 June 2021 Officer Jarred Bolduc of Troop C in Tolland reported that Bard’s 2019 Subaru WRX was westbound on 74 at about 5 a.m. when Bard lost control of the car and veered into the shoulder. Susan Dunne,, 31 May 2021 The belt pouch may be worn over the shoulder, crossbody, as a belt or carried by hand. Nel-olivia Waga, Forbes, 31 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Prudently, the management of Abivax is expected to license one or more treatments to a Big Pharma company which would shoulder the financial investment to commercialize the therapies. Gene Marcial, Forbes, 19 May 2021 But state governments and small business associations generally oppose verification measures that would shoulder them or their members with extra costs or liability. Dylan Tokar, WSJ, 11 May 2021 Take responsibility and shoulder your fair share of the work. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, 1 May 2021 But those who knowingly use TennCare while living in another state are breaking Tennessee law and creating burdens on taxpayers who shoulder the costs. al, 26 Apr. 2021 Poorer countries emphasized that wealthier nations bore the brunt of the responsibility for global warming and should shoulder most of the costs of undoing the damage. Anna M. Phillips, Los Angeles Times, 23 Apr. 2021 Beyond paying for needs like toiletries, Dunne said stimulus funds could benefit prisoners' families — who often shoulder the costs of a loved one's incarceration — or go toward someone's eventual return home. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, 14 Apr. 2021 If September was merely a mirage, a positive blip amid two years of struggles, the Cubs will really be counting on Workman to bounce back and other relievers to step up and shoulder more high-leverage spots. Meghan Montemurro,, 20 Feb. 2021 Ben Putnam, Needham: Standing 6-foot-4, the junior outside hitter will have to shoulder the offensive load for the Rockets until Fanning returns., 2 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for shoulder

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shoulder

Last Updated

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shoulder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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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 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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