What does shrug mean?

Definitions for shrug

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word shrug.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. shrugverb

    a gesture involving the shoulders

  2. shrugverb

    raise one's shoulders to indicate indifference or resignation


  1. shrugnoun

    A gesture consisting of drawing up the shoulders, -- a motion usually expressing doubt, indifference, or dislike; -- it is sometimes accompanied by a slight turning of the hands outward or upward. Such a gesture may be made, as in answering "who knows" to a question, suggesting utter ignorance of an answer and a disinclination to pursue the topic further.


  1. shrugnoun

    A lifting of the shoulders to signal indifference.

    He dismissed my comment with a shrug.

  2. shrugverb

    To raise the shoulders to express a lack of knowledge or certainty.

    I asked him for an answer and he just shrugged.

  3. shrugverb

    To raise the shoulders to express a lack of concern or worry.

    When he saw the problem, he just shrugged and started fixing it.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Shrugverb

    to draw up or contract (the shoulders), especially by way of expressing dislike, dread, doubt, or the like

    Etymology: [Probably akin to shrink, p. p. shrunk; cf. Dan. skrugge, skrukke, to stoop, dial. Sw. skrukka, skruga, to crouch.]

  2. Shrugverb

    to raise or draw up the shoulders, as in expressing dislike, dread, doubt, or the like

    Etymology: [Probably akin to shrink, p. p. shrunk; cf. Dan. skrugge, skrukke, to stoop, dial. Sw. skrukka, skruga, to crouch.]

  3. Shrugnoun

    a drawing up of the shoulders, -- a motion usually expressing dislike, dread, or doubt

    Etymology: [Probably akin to shrink, p. p. shrunk; cf. Dan. skrugge, skrukke, to stoop, dial. Sw. skrukka, skruga, to crouch.]


  1. Shrug

    A shrug is a gesture that is performed by lifting both shoulders up, and is an indication of an individual either not knowing an answer to a question, or not caring about a result. It can also be used when someone is simply ignoring the person's question. It may be accentuated with raised eyebrows and/or an exaggerated frown. It is very common in Western culture, rather than saying "I don't know", they would simply perform a shrug. In the English-speaking world it may be accompanied by a three syllable grunt or hummed mumble mimicking the intonation of "I dunno". The shrug is relatively absent from Eastern culture. The gesture may be accompanied by raised palms.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Shrug

    shrug, v.t. to draw up: to contract.—v.i. to draw up the shoulders, expressive of doubt, surprise, indifference, &c.:—pr.p. shrug′ging; pa.t. and pa.p. shrugged.—n. an expressive drawing up of the shoulders. [Scand., Dan. skrugge, to stoop.]

Suggested Resources

  1. shrug

    Song lyrics by shrug -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by shrug on the Lyrics.com website.

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British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'shrug' in Verbs Frequency: #591

How to pronounce shrug?

How to say shrug in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of shrug in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of shrug in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of shrug in a Sentence

  1. Alexandra Kartokhina:

    As for these eternal squabbles that students from Crimea are taking university places from Russians, I can say only that it's completely absurd, and let me say that they have only allocated budgeted places for Crimean students to some universities and in some specialisms, which are often not the best. In some universities, questions about quotas are met with a shrug and a puzzled look.

  2. James Comey:

    I kind of shrug and sometimes smile and laugh about it and then I have a secondary reaction, which is to be horrified at my own numb reaction, right ? we have to remind ourselves the President of the United States of America is publicly announcing that people are committing crimes, that they should be in jail.

  3. Boris Johnson:

    For the last few years I have said clearly if we didn't get reform we should be prepared to walk away. I think we now have a golden opportunity to shrug off a regulatory legislative burden that is profoundly undemocratic, we have got a once in a lifetime opportunity, which will not come again, to strike a new series of relationships, free trade deals with the growth economies around the world, whilst maintaining ... our free trade advantages with the European Union.

  4. William Copeland:

    If someone's maltreated, we tend to validate them, to tell them that it's not their fault, with bullying, it's sometimes the case that the response is a lot less supportive, more of a shrug.

  5. Colin Moore:

    It's not as if people in Hawaii have a clear idea of what Tulsi Gabbard wants, everyone greets it with the same shoulder shrug. We don't know.

Images & Illustrations of shrug

  1. shrugshrugshrugshrugshrug

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Translations for shrug

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • هز كتفيهArabic
  • encongiment d'espatllesCatalan, Valencian
  • pokrčit ramenyCzech
  • skuldertræk, trække på skuldreneDanish
  • Schulterzucken, mit den Schultern zucken, mit den Achseln zucken, AchselzuckenGerman
  • encogimiento de hombros, encogerse de hombrosSpanish
  • olankohautus, kohauttaaFinnish
  • haussement d'épaules, hausser les épaulesFrench
  • crathadh, crathScottish Gaelic
  • stringere le spalle, scrollareItalian
  • 肩を窄める, 肩を竦めるJapanese
  • schouderophalenDutch
  • wzruszyć ramionamiPolish
  • encolhida de ombros, dar de ombros, encolher os ombrosPortuguese
  • пожимание плечами, пожать плечами, пожимать плечамиRussian
  • слијегање раменима, slijeganje ramenima, slegnuti ramenima, слегнути раменимаSerbo-Croatian
  • rycka på axlarna, axelryckningSwedish
  • ยักThai

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    closely constrained or constricted or constricting
    • A. opaque
    • B. profound
    • C. transparent
    • D. tight

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