1 of 2


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

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


2 of 2


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

Example Sentences

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
When global leaders finally shrug and launch their full nuclear arsenals, killing zombies and humans alike, Earth literally ends with a fart. Scott Meslow, Vulture, 25 May 2022 Houston fans may shrug at the team's additions at first glance while—to quote Phillies owner John Middleton—stupid money was handed out across the sport. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 19 Dec. 2022 Long-suffering Cowboys fans will shrug their shoulders at this point and say so what. Dallas News, 26 Jan. 2022 Back then, even fewer clinicians understood how to handle functional symptoms, and the standard of care was basically to shrug and send the patient home, or shunt them off to therapy. Natalie Shure, The New Republic, 8 Dec. 2022 Unlike so many other things, France wasn’t prepared to shrug this one off. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, 4 Dec. 2022 Few things are more comforting than watching languid actor Jeff Goldblum (best known for playing Dr. Malcolm in the Jurassic Park movies) shrug his way through a series of short documentaries about different subcultures and industries. WIRED, 23 Sep. 2022 Thankfully, Ryan always knows how to shrug these moments off! Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 24 Aug. 2022 Garin broke Kyrgios’s serve at love in the opening game and won the first nine points of the match, prompting Kyrgios to shrug his shoulders and start the running dialogue with his box that lasted all afternoon. New York Times, 6 July 2022
Rick Carlisle gave the question a bit of a shrug and an eye-roll, already a bit weary of press conferences in which he's constantly being asked about players who aren't available, one in particular. Dustin Dopirak, The Indianapolis Star, 17 Jan. 2023 The Bengals quarterback offered the equivalent of a verbal shrug when asked about the comparison and fanfare surrounding the matchup. Michael Niziolek, cleveland, 2 Dec. 2022 The continuous upward driving and squeezing motion of the shrug is the opposite. Jeff Tomko, Men's Health, 2 Aug. 2022 As with all matters involving NBA free agency, the timing of Tucker’s agreement with the 76ers initially was met with as much of a shrug as the timing of Brunson’s agreement. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 30 July 2022 The death certificate conveyed the same sentiment, a kind of official shrug. Eric Boodman, STAT, 12 July 2022 Most musicals start the second act with a song that’s, well, somewhat of a shrug — a soundtrack for the shuffle of audiences putting away their phones, settling back into their seats and gradually reentering the story onstage. Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2022 Alas, the computer gives the 0s-and-1s equivalent of a shrug as to which film that might be. Ben Zauzmer, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Feb. 2022 Purdy’s college teammates process that head-spinning information with a shrug. Staff Writer Follow, Los Angeles Times, 26 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shrug.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English schruggen

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near shrug

Cite this Entry

“Shrug.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2023.

Kids Definition


shrugged; shrugging
: to draw or hunch up the shoulders usually to express doubt, uncertainty, or lack of interest
shrug noun

More from Merriam-Webster on shrug

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

What Did You Just Call Me?

  • brown chihuahua sitting on the floor with squinting eyes looking at the camera
  • Before we went to her house, Hannah told us her aunt was a flibbertigibbet.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?