\ 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 On its own, that probably wouldn’t have caused the EU to shrug aside Mr. Sullivan’s Twitter request. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "Transatlantic alliance due for a reset. But what about China?," 14 Jan. 2021 And Armstead, getting all this attention, did his best to shrug it off and chalk it up to just another day at the office. Luke Johnson,, "Terron Armstead's big, loud day vs the Vikings earned him a rare moment in the spotlight," 31 Dec. 2020 That division, several experts said, may partly explain why some Americans shrug their shoulders. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Could Trump pardon family members and other close associates? His prior pardons may set the stage for more," 4 Dec. 2020 For a drama with as many upsetting moments of Grand Army, this last bit of terror should shake up the lives of its characters, not serve as one more frightening obstacle to shrug over. Ariana Romero,, "Netflix’s Grand Army Is Triggering. It Will Also Be All Over Your Timeline," 17 Oct. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Arguably the strangest trend to come out of 2020 is the bolero, a shrug-like silhouette that was big in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Eliza Huber,, "2020’s Most Popular Trends Were As Peculiar As The Year Itself," 24 Dec. 2020 The shrug emoji was the most used in 2020, often accompanied by grand statements of uncertain times. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "“Let’s be like Covid and catch each other”: How Indians romanced on Tinder this year," 8 Dec. 2020 This weekend, footage of packed airport terminals across the country — widely shared on social media — shocked some but caused others to shrug. Janet Mooreand Zoë Jackson, Star Tribune, "Travelers continue to fly at MSP Airport despite warnings," 25 Nov. 2020 Take a firm grip on the leash, lean back as if the dog is about to pull you forward, and tilt your head to one side with an apologetic shrug. Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Margarita drinker thinks he’s tasting a lollipop," 8 Oct. 2020 And what should have elicited little more than a shrug instead made one sigh in relief. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "The electoral college vote was blissfully bureaucratic and boring," 15 Dec. 2020 Good questions, and all Madlib's sturdy, supportive beat can do is shrug, as producer and rapper realize this isn't worth spending more than 70 seconds on anyway. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 20 Best Rap Songs of 2020: Staff Picks," 10 Dec. 2020 Last week, San Diego County recorded its 1,000th coronavirus death and while it wasn’t met with a shrug, it was received with the grim acknowledgment of something bad that was expected. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: COVID-19 deaths will be ‘a 9/11 every single day’," 6 Dec. 2020 In a survey this week to our text subscribers, who serve as a dedicated and engaged focus group of OSU fans, the doubt wasn’t met with a shrug. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "What if the Ohio State-Michigan game isn’t played -- and isn’t missed as much as expected? Doug Lesmerises," 4 Dec. 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

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shrug.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on shrug

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