\ 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


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

In her meeting with the Tribune Editorial Board about that $838 million hole in her 2020 budget, with bad news all around her and cold shoulders shrugging at her from Springfield, Mayor Lori Lightfoot took a breath. John Kass,, "Column: Mayor Lightfoot has patience, but soon, she’ll have to be bold," 30 Aug. 2019 Pre-breakup, Shayk essentially shrugs at the public’s obsession with her private life. Olivia Fleming, Harper's BAZAAR, "Will the Real Irina Shayk Please Stand Up," 11 July 2019 Mitchell says, shrugging at the new reality of creating and re-creating in the time of social media. Ashley Lee,, "Anais Mitchell on the very public evolution of ‘Hadestown’ in the digital age," 4 June 2019 This is why so many will see these images from Utrecht and shrug them off as some crazy Dutch experiment with no chance in the US. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "I can’t wrap my feeble American brain around this massive bike parking garage in the Netherlands," 20 Aug. 2019 As if numbed by the frequency of such violence, the officer tried to shrug it off, telling the man that perhaps his son was bad, and that whatever his fate had been in the explosion was his punishment. New York Times, "Violence in Afghanistan Worsens as U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Plod On," 7 Aug. 2019 The police involved in both dousings appeared to shrug them off, either in a spirit of good humor or remarkable restraint. David B. Caruso, The Denver Post, "President Trump calls drenching of NYPD officers “unacceptable”," 25 July 2019 Djokovic shrugged his shoulders and raised his arms, glaring in the direction of his supporters' box. Matias Grez, CNN, "Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal to set up Wimbledon final with Novak Djokovic," 12 July 2019 The Supreme Court may well look at that distinction, shrug its shoulders, and proceed immediately to upholding UBCs. David French, National Review, "Universal Background Checks Are Constitutionally Suspect," 12 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His arrival, in the grand scope of USC’s quarterback competition, would elicit little more than a passing shrug outside of the program. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC quarterback Kedon Slovis is not the guy yet but not an afterthought either," 21 Aug. 2019 The Wood Island Life Saving Station very nearly forever disappeared into a fog of political inertia, swallowed by financial distress and imperiled by the collective shrug of municipal shoulders. Thomas Farragher,, "A piece of Maine’s maritime history gets a lifeline," 10 July 2019 In years past, such a launch might have been greeted with a collective shrug from the press. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The ugly side of Facebook’s pivot to privacy is starting to show," 9 July 2019 The collective reaction, according to dozens of Cubans, appears to have been a shrug. Kevin Spear,, "Return to Cuba: Everything and nothing has changed," 11 July 2019 Whatever the reason, many fans met the movies’ reduced presence with a shrug. Los Angeles Times, "At Comic-Con 2019, Marvel — not movies — is the main attraction," 21 July 2019 The opportunity to write about Stonewall provokes in me mainly a big ehh and a shrug. Michelle Tea, Harper's magazine, "Stonewall at Fifty," 22 June 2019 Once again, the woman offers up her pain—as testimony; as evidence; as fodder for change—and, once again, that pain is met with a shrug. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Cruel Paradox at the Heart of E. Jean Carroll’s Allegation Against Trump," 24 June 2019 By the end of the exchange, Zuckerberg had done something that has become increasingly rare in the tech industry the past few years: defend free speech with a hammer not a shrug. Nicholas Thompson, WIRED, "Zuckerberg Defends Free Speech, Even When the Speech is False," 26 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shrug

Statistics for shrug

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shrug

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shrug



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shrug

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shrug

Spanish Central: Translation of shrug

Nglish: Translation of shrug for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shrug for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shrug

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!