\ ˈshrəg How to pronounce shrug (audio) , especially Southern ˈsrəg \
shrugged; shrugging

Definition of shrug

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to raise or draw in the shoulders especially to express aloofness, indifference, or uncertainty

transitive verb

: to lift or contract (the shoulders) especially to express aloofness, indifference, or uncertainty



Definition of shrug (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of shrugging
2 : a woman's small waist-length or shorter jacket

Examples of shrug in a Sentence

Verb I asked if he wanted to go out to dinner, and he just shrugged. He just shrugged his shoulders.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The easy thing would have been to shrug and stay home. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: In a nasty nation, there's an oasis of nice in one Michigan city," 11 Oct. 2020 Still, Trump's Republican allies simply shrug that Trump will be Trump. Lisa Mascaro, Star Tribune, "Trump COVID infection creates new challenge for GOP," 2 Oct. 2020 With Ryan leading 7-0 in the first quarter, Sanders caught a short pass over the middle, used his power to shrug aside a defender and then outran the defense for a 58-yard touchdown pass from Seth Henigan. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "No. 1 Denton Ryan overwhelms Arlington Martin as 5-star recruit Ja’Tavion Sanders puts on a show," 26 Sep. 2020 Clearly, Facebook is taking calculated steps to merge its existing, disparate services in ways that average users—and tech-oblivious regulators—might otherwise shrug their shoulders at. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Why the Facebookening of Oculus VR is bad for users, devs, competition," 20 Aug. 2020 Cynics shrug them off as hush money to shareholders. The Economist, "Schumpeter Big Tech is the new dividend royalty," 15 Aug. 2020 Most players will understandably shrug at these historical distortions. Reid Mccarter, Washington Post, "Like ‘Ghost of Tsushima’? Here’s what you may not know about samurai.," 14 Aug. 2020 With the runoff for the Republican nomination in the conservative district approaching, some voters seem unaware of Greene’s controversial views, or shrug it off., "Kanye West’s presidential bid bolstered by Republican operatives in at least five states," 9 Aug. 2020 With the runoff for the Republican nomination in the conservative district approaching, some voters seem unaware of Greene's controversial views, or shrug it off. Ben Nadler, Star Tribune, "Controversy puts spotlight on Georgia congressional runoff," 9 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The front office is a not available to speak to the media human shrug emoji. Stephanie Stradley, Houston Chronicle, "Stephanie Stradley's Texans-Jaguars Q&A with Alfie Crow," 9 Oct. 2020 Still, many others chose to ride out Delta with a shrug — a response that might be interpreted as coolheadedness or insouciance. Richard Fausset, New York Times, "Tropical Storm Delta Strikes a Louisiana Region That Was Already Reeling," 9 Oct. 2020 Late in the game, Mahomes' celebration featured him running off the field, showing four fingers and a shrug. Dominique Yates, The Courier-Journal, "Kansas City Chiefs blast Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens Monday night," 29 Sep. 2020 Perhaps that’s why 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan began with the verbal equivalent of a shrug when asked about the confluence of events impacting his team. Eric Branch,, "49ers face adversity Sunday, but they’re also facing Jets," 19 Sep. 2020 There is no exodus of weary residents who throw back the covers, shrug on a robe, and go outside to join a mob of hectoring Marxists. James Lileks, National Review, "Demonstration Nation," 3 Sep. 2020 Relaxation came on gently like a shrug; a sigh of relief fell from my lips. oregonlive, "How to vacation during the pandemic: 4 day trips to 4 ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest," 30 Aug. 2020 This may be accompanied by a cynical shrug, perhaps after reading about the latest Chinese hospital boss arrested for bribe-taking or a fresh scandal involving fake medicines. The Economist, "Chaguan China needs to train more doctors," 29 Aug. 2020 Until the world was forced to gaze at Falwell’s navel on Instagram, the reaction from the evangelical community was largely a shrug because men are allowed, even expected, to behave this way from time to time. Elizabeth Spiers, The New York Review of Books, "Jerry Falwell Jr. and the Evangelical Redemption Story," 20 Aug. 2020

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shrug


Middle English schruggen

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Time Traveler for shrug

Time Traveler

The first known use of shrug was in the 14th century

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Statistics for shrug

Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shrug.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for shrug


How to pronounce shrug (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shrug

: to raise and lower your shoulders usually to show that you do not know or care about something


\ ˈshrəg How to pronounce shrug (audio) \
shrugged; shrugging

Kids Definition of shrug

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to raise and lower the shoulders usually to express doubt, uncertainty, or lack of interest



Kids Definition of shrug (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of raising and lowering the shoulders

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