\ˈshrəg, 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

Combine that with the fact that cars and even trucks are more fuel-efficient these days and that filling them is a smaller share of disposable income than in past economic cycles and consumers can shrug away $3 gasoline. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Detroit Needn’t Fret Yet About Pump Prices," 4 July 2018 Others shrug and say, all this talk of a dumpster fire is just fake news. Fox News, "Rep. Cuellar on battle over separating families at border," 19 June 2018 Shinnecock Hills has been moody and feisty all week, but Johnson has shrugged his way to a 69-67 start. Michael Rosenberg,, "An Underrated Strategist, Dustin Johnson in Full Control of U.S. Open After 67 at Shinnecock," 15 June 2018 Finally, a team that shrugged at the loss of draft picks, forfeiting their second round and third round picks, and pronouncing that their rebuild is over. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "MLB's brutal winter is all but over. Here are the biggest winners and losers.," 12 Mar. 2018 After the squad laid into him for his poor attitude in the first half, the Chilean merely shrugged his shoulders in response., "Ale No Mates: Interesting Details Regarding Alexis Sanchez's January Move to Man Utd Revealed," 28 Mar. 2018 Rocking a Jonas Brothers teeshirt, a little bit of Uncle Jessie shines through when Stamos flubs a line, shrugs and smiles at the camera. Matthew Wilson, USA TODAY, "New dad John Stamos reunites with the Beach Boys for emotional Capitol Fourth concert," 4 July 2018 Observers shrugged when Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006. Adam Candeub, WSJ, "Will Microsoft’s Embrace Smother GitHub?," 24 June 2018 So, shrug this off or take your revenge in good time (over a nice Cobb salad). Philip Galanes, New York Times, "But We’re So Young," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As each of these bombshells detonate, sometimes within hours of each other, congressional Republican leaders then react with little more than a shrug. Ronald Brownstein, CNN, "Beating Republicans in November will be harder than Democrats thought," 22 May 2018 Bring up politics on the streets of the Bronx and you will be met with shrugs. The Economist, "The L wordWho is a Democrat?," 12 July 2018 Philipps tagged Hanks in the tweet and added three shrug emojis. Ale Russian,, "Busy Philipps Jokes She and Ex Colin Hanks Are Psychopaths for Being Friends," 9 July 2018 After six months of getting shoulder-shrug-emoji’ed by the team whose No. David Murphy,, "Markelle Fultz's summer-league decision with Sixers will show if he is listening to the right people | David Murphy," 29 May 2018 Many classes began as normal, with almost no acknowledgement of the political change except a nod or a shrug or a wry joke. Em Odesser, Teen Vogue, "Why Our School Walkout Took a Different Path," 14 Mar. 2018 As Chicago’s minimum wage jumps to $12 per hour Sunday, from $11, restaurant owner Laura Gutierrez Ramos is marking the milestone with a shrug. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz,, "Chicago's minimum wage is about to jump to $12 per hour. Who are the winners and the losers?," 29 June 2018 But in many academic fields, the technology is still greeted with shrugs and quizzical looks. Elizabeth Gibney, Scientific American, "Muons: The Little-known Particles Helping to Probe the Impenetrable," 28 May 2018 Also nowhere to be seen are Charlie Hunnam (shrug), Ron Perlman (wha?) and Guillermo del Toro (damn). Justin Chang,, "'Pacific Rim Uprising' is a big, noisy, cheerfully dumb monsters-and-robots sequel," 22 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for shrug

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for shrug

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

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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 \
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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Comments on shrug

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by force of circumstances

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