\ 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 The tweet included a GIF of a grinning Lizzo, turning to the camera and shrugging, looking just like the emoji. Julyssa Lopez, Billboard, "'Truth Hurts' Was a Viral Hit, But Lizzo's Stardom Is No Accident," 19 Sep. 2019 Having a soft spot for criminals institutionally proved nearly to be the ruination of America’s greatest city until the mayoralty of Rudy Giuliani seized on the counterrevolutionary idea of disrupting and punishing crime instead of shrugging at it. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Three Ways of Looking at Dog Day Afternoon," 4 May 2020 Rayner shrugged helplessly at the pair of them but left without further argument. David Canfield,, "First look: Disney's epic new fairy-tale series begins with Julie C. Dao's magical Broken Wish," 13 Apr. 2020 Conversely, the series' first two episodes flounder with Kate as a one-dimensional grump who shrugs her shoulders at some of the series' bigger logical leaps. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Clone Rudd: Living with Yourself is great sci-fi in the Orphan Black mold," 18 Oct. 2019 Jordan makes six three-point shots in the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, turning to the crowd and shrugging his shoulders. Los Angeles Times, "Michael Jordan: A timeline of the NBA legend," 18 Apr. 2020 On his way to a 35-point first half, after hitting his sixth 3-pointer, Jordan turned to the scorer’s table, smiled sheepishly, raised his palms upward and shrugged. Dallas News, "SportsDay staffers pick the best athletes they’ve ever covered: Michael Jordan, Patrick Mahomes, D-FW high school stars and more," 13 Apr. 2020 Owen and Link high five each other for saving the woman’s life and presumably shrug their shoulders about this singing phenomenon after Koracick can’t find anything wrong. Lincee Ray,, "Grey's Anatomy recap: What's wrong with Richard?," 3 Apr. 2020 Lamb summarily splashed the triple, a shot that was followed by Budenholzer shrugging his shoulders in confusion at Brown as the backup wing ran by the Bucks' bench. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Pacers 118, Bucks 111: Heading into the break after some of the worst basketball of the season," 12 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In Canada, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision has been met with what amounts to a shrug. Vipal Monga, WSJ, "‘Megxit’ Causes Global Uproar. Canada Shrugs.," 16 Jan. 2020 Democrats blame Section 230 for letting the likes of Facebook shrug while bullies and Russian provocateurs run riot on its services. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Big Tech’s Favorite Legal Shield Is in Danger," 20 Nov. 2019 The violence was not only unusually detailed and bloody, it was administered with an alarming shrug or even outright glee, not with the solemn duty seen in John Ford movies. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Opera," 2 May 2020 Amadeo reported this intrusion with a shoulder shrug, noting that the credit card attached to his account was already expired. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Nintendo accounts are getting hijacked—including one of ours [Updated]," 20 Apr. 2020 The shrug game: Never really known as a 3-point shooter, Jordan drilled six 3s in the first half for 35 points in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals to catapult the Bulls over the Portland Trail Blazers and set the tone for the rest of the series. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Day 39 Without Sports 😭: Reliving Michael Jordan's top 10 moments ahead of 'The Last Dance'," 19 Apr. 2020 The shift from wow to shrug happened with cars, personal computers and televisions. Shira Ovide, New York Times, "Why Apple’s New Phone Doesn’t Matter," 15 Apr. 2020 Now is not the time to be inconsiderate or shrug at rules. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: Do the Reds and Bengals have a duty during the coronavirus pandemic?," 30 Mar. 2020 By Pat McDonogh, Courier Journal) More than 150 years later and a with shoulder shrug to ancient history, Cynthiana is a bustling small town in northeastern Kentucky. Pat Mcdonogh, The Courier-Journal, "Ghosts, old clocks and the Civil War: Cynthiana's clock tower is a ticking time capsule," 10 Mar. 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

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shrug.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

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