\ 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 Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, looked back at his winger throwing a strop on the bench behind him and shrugged it off with a chuckle., "7 Things We Learned From Another Scorching Weekend of Premier League Action," 16 Sep. 2019 Jakobi Meyers opened it with his first career reception, a nice 22-yard grab from Brady in which the rookie took a wicked hit in the back but shrugged it off and picked up some yards after the catch. Jim Mcbride,, "Patriots have everything working in an opening rout of Steelers," 8 Sep. 2019 Lloyd shrugs these locations loose, and instead places a marbled white wall behind his players and gives them the barest props. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "Experiments with Context in “Betrayal” and “Eureka Day”," 9 Sep. 2019 But Jenkins shrugged when asked if Medicare-for-all, the slogan that has dominated early campaigning in the 2020 Democratic primary, was the solution to his and America’s health care woes. Akilah Johnson, ProPublica, "Medicare-for-All Is Not Medicare, and Not Really for All. So What Does It Actually Mean?," 6 Sep. 2019 French President Emmanuel Macron, the unlucky host, shrugged last week. Los Angeles Times, "Column: The global economy is slipping toward recession — and Trump is making it worse," 25 Aug. 2019 The wives will shrug, and the men will remove their jackets, in grateful relief. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "A Certain Brashness," 22 Aug. 2019 Marvin and other rangers asked for more details, but the young man could only shrug and point. Neil Shea, National Geographic, "A thawing Arctic is heating up a new Cold War," 21 Aug. 2019 My Republican friends can only shrug: The experiment failed. Dallas News, "Letters - Misled or forewarned? Readers give their take on the Mueller hearing," 4 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The week that ended in a collective shrug had otherwise been a time of reflection, confusion and farce. The Economist, "A sad, tawdry end for Robert Mugabe," 15 Sep. 2019 On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Democrats' proceedings are being met with a collective shrug. CBS News, "House Judiciary Committee to vote on impeachment hearing parameters," 9 Sep. 2019 And that brings us to 2019, when the return of trillion-dollar deficits has been met with a collective shrug from Republican leaders. Brian Riedl, National Review, "New Budget Deal Puts Final Nail in the Tea Party Coffin," 22 July 2019 But those factors are met with a collective shrug as the Americans continue to back up their arrogance. Editors, USA TODAY, "Trump and Iran, World Cup and SpaceX: 5 things you need to know Monday," 24 June 2019 If restaurants and convenience stores once were worried about eliminating foam, today the ban has been met with a collective shrug. Corinne Ramey, WSJ, "Industry-Backed Group Keeps Fighting Foam Ban," 9 Aug. 2018 But much of Italy seemed to react with a shrug of the shoulders. Tariq Panja, New York Times, "In Italy, Racist Abuse Is Dismissed (Again) as Part of the Game," 4 Sep. 2019 Sexist bias is as old as China itself and unlikely to disappear anytime soon, as some of the movie’s older male interviewees make clear with an unrepentant shrug. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘One Child Nation’ is a powerful, painful look at impact of China’s one-child policy," 7 Aug. 2019 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

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

11 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for shrug

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

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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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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).


an agreement to stop fighting a war

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