Definition of shoulder in English:

shoulder

noun

  • 1The upper joint of each of a person's arms and the part of the body between this and the neck:

    ‘I was carrying a bag over my shoulder’
    ‘she turned to look at him over her shoulder’
    ‘he tapped me on the shoulder and I looked round’
    • ‘For example, acupuncture needles are inserted into the tender areas of muscle in the neck and shoulders to treat headaches.’
    • ‘Tighten your trunk muscles to keep your shoulders, hips and knees in alignment.’
    • ‘The neck, shoulder and wrist should be examined carefully in the patient with elbow pain.’
    • ‘There was no direct blow to the scapula and the shoulder did not dislocate.’
    • ‘He is very flexible throughout the shoulders, upper body and especially in the ankles.’
    • ‘Less commonly your hips, shoulders, elbows, and neck may be affected.’
    • ‘These include muscles used to maintain body posture, such as those in the neck, shoulders, and pelvic girdle.’
    • ‘Her sore back, neck and shoulders prompted her to pay regular visits to a chiropractor and a massage therapist.’
    • ‘I went straight to bed but became increasingly concerned with the aches down the back of my neck and shoulders.’
    • ‘That includes our arms, ribcage, shoulders, neck, upper back and chest.’
    • ‘Sitting at a desk all day puts pressure on your lower back, neck and shoulders.’
    • ‘While you are at it, do some stretching exercises to relieve tension in your back, shoulders, and neck.’
    • ‘There may be stiffness of the neck and shoulders, tingling or stiffness in the limbs, an inability to concentrate and difficulty in speaking.’
    • ‘Aching to severe pain with tenderness occurs in their neck, shoulders, upper arms, hips and thighs.’
    • ‘Occasionally it starts in one region such as the neck and shoulders and spreads over a period of time.’
    • ‘Your goal is to be able to support your baby without straining your back, neck, arms or shoulders.’
    • ‘The weakness is usually worse in the muscles of the hips, thighs, neck, shoulders and upper arms.’
    • ‘Bursitis often affects the areas around the joints in your shoulders, elbows or hips.’
    • ‘Finally, tension in the shoulders, neck and upper back often make people over-work their vocal muscles.’
    • ‘This condition is characterized by fatigue, tenderness and pain, especially in the back, shoulders and neck.’
    1. 1.1 (in quadrupeds) the joint of the upper forelimb and the adjacent part of the back.
      • ‘Most solid-color donkeys have a dark dorsal stripe from mane to tail and a dark stripe across their shoulders.’
      • ‘In addition, the males display orange shoulders and the most forward individuals show almost jet-black heads.’
      • ‘The small chestnut patches on its shoulders are not always visible.’
      • ‘Some species have complicated color patterns, often including stripes on the head or back or white tufts of fur on the shoulders.’
      • ‘Given this, the limited range of motion at the shoulder and elbow is surprising.’
    2. 1.2 The part of a bird or insect at which the wing is attached.
      • ‘A second bird dislocated a shoulder and his wing would never be strong enough to serve him in the wild.’
      • ‘A dark band down the shoulders contrasts with the white collar in flight, and the bird has narrow, pointed wings.’
    3. 1.3 A joint of meat from the upper foreleg and shoulder blade of an animal:
      ‘a shoulder of lamb’
      • ‘The blacksmith, having just purchased a shoulder of mutton, is triumphantly waving it in the air.’
      • ‘One hopes for a quarter of lamb, the other for a shoulder of mutton and both are dismayed when the true discovery of the baby is made.’
      • ‘You will need to order the boned shoulder of lamb ahead of time.’
      • ‘Some areas cook the entire hog, others just the pork shoulder, some make pulled pork.’
      • ‘For the beef shoulder, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.’
      • ‘Remove the meat, skin, and tongue from the head, shoulders, and fore shanks.’
      • ‘From the hams and shoulders he will peel off the outside meat as dog food, but will keep some of the inside meat for his family.’
      • ‘If you are preparing a red meat-based stew use front quarter cuts like a pork shoulder or a beef chuck or ribs.’
      • ‘Hams, shoulders, jowls, and sides of bacon could be cured to last indefinitely.’
    4. 1.4 A part of a garment covering the shoulder:
      ‘a jacket with padded shoulders’
      • ‘Conventionally sew the garment shoulder and side seams and press the seam allowances open.’
      • ‘In the normal judo competition you face your opponent with your hands grasping the lapels or shoulders of his uniform.’
      • ‘This particular form of tailoring is tight and tiny, cut with soft, rounded shoulders, open necklines and small waists which are sometimes belted.’
      • ‘Making alterations to other areas, such as the shoulders, back or lapels will change the intended design of the suit.’
      • ‘The cuffs were also of the same nature, as were the epaulettes on the shoulders of his military tunic.’
      • ‘A damp tea towel had made a moist patch on the shoulder of my tee-shirt.’
      • ‘All that's needed is a canvas khaki green belt, or even a jacket with patch pockets and very defined shoulders.’
      • ‘The red ruffle detail dress is flirty and fun with frills falling from the hem and shoulder for a ravishing party look.’
    5. 1.5shoulders The upper part of the back and arms:
      ‘a tall youth with broad shoulders’
      • ‘With chest thrown out and shoulders back, he walked with the vigour of a younger man.’
      • ‘Massaging your temples, shoulders and neck can help reduce the pain of headaches.’
      • ‘I watched his tense, broad shoulders slump a little.’
      • ‘She put each front paw on the person's shoulders and her back paws on the person's hips.’
      • ‘Women traditionally wear a dress that covers their entire body from shoulders to ankles.’
      • ‘They appear most often on the face, but can also form in other places such as the neck, shoulders, behind the ears, on the chest, on the buttocks and on the upper back.’
      • ‘He slid his hands up from my elbows to my shoulders to my neck.’
      • ‘They lathered up, scrubbed and rinsed off, tipping full basins of water across their backs, shoulders, chests and heads.’
    6. 1.6shoulders A person's shoulders regarded as bearing responsibility or hardship or providing strength:
      ‘all accounts place the blame squarely on his shoulders’
      • ‘He suddenly felt the overwhelming weight of responsibility on his shoulders as never before.’
      • ‘A historic responsibility lies on the shoulders of the commanders of this great institution.’
      • ‘The weight of the world rests on my shoulders, responsibilities no one else could possibly understand.’
      • ‘There is no justification for shifting the burden to the shoulders of the people as this is a World Bank-aided project.’
      • ‘I'm sorry to put so much responsibility on your shoulders, but I know you can handle it.’
      • ‘Don't stop until you can lift the heaviest burdens off the shoulders of the people who need you.’
      • ‘For it is on their shoulders that the responsibility bears down.’
      • ‘This means that there is a greater responsibility placed on the shoulders of such persons to be exemplars.’
      • ‘Chelsea's success depends on the responsibility put on the shoulders of the committed players.’
      • ‘This puts a great responsibility on our shoulders and we must not fail.’
      • ‘How tough is it to be a young player in this league with those responsibilities on your shoulders?’
      • ‘At the same time the other officers said they would share the load and take a lot of the responsibility off Jerry's shoulders.’
      • ‘Her mother died when the family were young and from an early age she had a lot of responsibilities on her young shoulders.’
      • ‘It seemed like Jigs was carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders as well.’
      • ‘From an early age a heavy burden fell on their shoulders but they responded with great courage and commitment.’
      • ‘We have a huge responsibility on our shoulders now and the sooner the loyalists are sorted out the better.’
      • ‘Everytime I make progress on that book I feel a great weight of responsibility roll off my shoulders.’
      • ‘The anger that results from viewing this film cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of the artists responsible for its images.’
      • ‘We're putting too much responsibility on young shoulders these days.’
      • ‘It was a tremendous amount of responsibility on my shoulders so I didn't disappoint them.’
  • 2A part of something resembling a shoulder in shape, position, or function:

    ‘the shoulder of a pulley’
    • ‘The Optra has a wedge shape with clearly accentuated shoulders.’
    1. 2.1 A point at which a steep slope descends from a plateau or highland area:
      ‘the shoulder of the hill sloped down’
      ‘a resort sheltered by the shoulder of Ben Nevis’
      • ‘We were no longer driving through meadows, but were venturing into the forest on the shoulder of a small hill.’
      • ‘Pre-Hispanic agricultural terraces curve in graceful tiers around the southern and eastern shoulders of the steep slopes.’
      • ‘That's when Sofia draws your attention to a chalet perched on a shoulder of the slope, just over a mile away.’
      • ‘Steep gullies lined the shoulders; I didn't want to stray too far into them.’
      • ‘The city, on the shoulders of surrounding hills, stretches along the river.’
  • 3

    another term for hard shoulder
    • ‘The only other people you ever saw here on the steep banks along the shoulder were prisoners doing cleanup.’
    • ‘My partner and I had parked on the shoulder of the highway and began to chat.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, Nicholas had spotted his jaguar sitting on the shoulder of the road and cut three lanes to get to her.’
    • ‘Kelly and three others were in two cars, one behind the other, at night on the shoulder of a major highway.’
    • ‘Because of the darkness of the night, Dawn nearly missed the black Jaguar parked on the shoulder of the road.’
    • ‘Charlie jogged toward the car which was parked on the shoulder of the street.’
    • ‘Hosein is appealing to drivers not to drive on the shoulder of the highways and not to cut in and out of moving traffic.’
    • ‘Kortni sits back, stunned, pulling the car over to the shoulder of the freeway.’
    • ‘He glanced over his shoulder in the rear view mirror and pulled off of the highway onto the wide shoulder.’
    • ‘I was in the vicinity of the lighthouse so I pulled onto the shoulder of the road to ponder my situation.’
    • ‘He said many motorists drove on the shoulder of the highways and used interchanges and ramps to go around traffic lights.’
    • ‘She was standing on the shoulder of an empty freeway and a slightly rough wind was blowing around her.’
    • ‘Her dad pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway and stopped the car.’
    • ‘She made her way all the way across the freeway to the left shoulder.’
    • ‘I hit the brakes and aimed it toward the shoulder of the highway.’

verb

  • 1[with object] Put (something heavy) over one's shoulder or shoulders to carry:

    ‘we shouldered our crippling backpacks and set off slowly up the hill’
    • ‘She shoulders a surprisingly long spear, perhaps to ward off the ardent king, although by that time she had been scarred by smallpox and he had mostly given up his advances.’
    • ‘I hurried back to my room, shouldered my knapsack, and hesitated over my suitcase before deciding to leave it.’
    • ‘‘Baths sound good,’ Lydia said, shouldering her bag.’
    • ‘Shane shouldered his bulky gym-bag and turned to his friends.’
    • ‘I thought he was trying to say that despite the lowering of the tax rates, the top 1% were shouldering an even heavier burden before.’
    • ‘Even the battalion chaplain, Steve Hommel, ended up shouldering an M16 rifle.’
    • ‘‘Oh well,’ I thought to myself as I shouldered my bag and stepped off the tube at my stop.’
    • ‘When their preparations were complete, they shouldered their back-bags, slung their rifles and set out.’
    • ‘Without asking, he shouldered Alex's soaking wet pack and led the way out of the graveyard, through a short corridor of the office complex, then out a side exit to a dark alley.’
    • ‘The next day, they got up very early and ate quickly before shouldering their bags for the third time and setting off down the path.’
    • ‘I shouldered my bag wearily, eager to get to bed.’
    • ‘She gave the old woman an impassive smile and stood up, shouldering her bag.’
    • ‘Wrapped in her coat and shouldering her bag, she emerged from the back room.’
    • ‘As it has turned out, the more appropriate implement to have been shouldered that day would have been shovels.’
    • ‘The leader of the group shouldered a much larger gun than the others and fired it into the trees hoping for a lucky shot.’
    • ‘His weapons, having previously been shouldered, were now outstretched to point at Lazarus.’
    • ‘He pushed his chair back in and shouldered his bag once more as he placed his dirty dishes in the sink.’
    • ‘I growled at her, but gave up, shouldering the bag and walking out the door.’
    • ‘Olivo shouldered his first fishing rod at age 4.’
    • ‘She opened the door of the cab and stepped out shouldering her bag.’
    1. 1.1 Take on (a burden or responsibility):
      ‘the day-to-day work will be shouldered by an action group’
      • ‘For in any situation of war or conflict, women shoulder the greatest burden.’
      • ‘It is Claire who shoulders the responsibility and carries the film.’
      • ‘This leads to worries about government mismanagement causing losses that will eventually be shouldered by the entire populace.’
      • ‘He held posts in London and Leeds before moving to Harrogate where he shouldered a heavy clinical load and provided an excellent service.’
      • ‘Gonzalez has had his struggles when asked to carry a team, but the Royals don't need him to shoulder that heavy of a load.’
      • ‘Like most failures to master our culture's pitfalls, this one is shouldered by the individual.’
      • ‘The work of protection cannot be shouldered by individuals or local governments alone.’
      • ‘It's just that Blunkett's replacement would not be expected to shoulder the same political burden as his predecessor.’
      • ‘That big task is being enthusiastically shouldered by Nader-Camejo campaigners across the country.’
      • ‘Of that amount, $43 million will be shouldered by the United Nations and the remaining $13.3 million by Cambodia.’
      • ‘Ian Gillies, chairman of York Taxi Association, said new drivers and operators would shoulder the largest chunk of the new costs.’
      • ‘Others argue that they cannot win more influence over American strategy without shouldering a greater share of the fighting.’
      • ‘Equally, it is important to understand the way in which the military shoulder their duties and responsibilities during a war.’
      • ‘We have to be prepared to shoulder the responsibility and accept the consequences of knowing the truth.’
      • ‘In terms of the money we pay to AIDS victims, we taxpayers must understand that this is a cost to be shouldered by the whole of society.’
      • ‘As a result, working women often shouldered double burdens as they juggled work and home responsibilities.’
      • ‘The risk of error is unacceptably high, and disproportionately shouldered by certain groups.’
      • ‘It is also cruel because, as a group, high earners already shoulder one of the heaviest tax burdens in history.’
      • ‘The Edinburgh resident will initially bear the burden of British hopes, but Hoy is happy to shoulder the responsibility.’
      • ‘Others before him have shouldered the burden of responsibility at a young age.’
      take on, take on oneself, undertake, accept, assume
      View synonyms
  • 2[with object and adverbial of direction] Push (someone or something) out of one's way with one's shoulder:

    ‘she shouldered him brusquely aside’
    • ‘Last year, he shouldered David Coulthard aside so comprehensively that the Scot's enduring relationship with McLaren suddenly dwindled.’
    • ‘He reached down to pick up his son, but Hoss shouldered him aside.’
    • ‘I walked past him calmly, but when I was at his side, I used all the force I could and shouldered him forcefully.’
    • ‘He turned and shouldered the computer-room door aside.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, on his way to escort them out of the club, one of the security personnel shouldered me aside and trod heavily on my foot.’
    • ‘The four ambled down the street, stepping through the muck, shouldering out of the way anyone foolish enough to be in their path.’
    • ‘Travis shoved into James, shouldering him out of the way.’
    push, shove, thrust, propel, jostle, elbow, force, crowd, prod, poke, nudge, knock, ram, bulldoze, sweep, bundle, hustle, hurry, rush, manhandle
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[no object, with adverbial of direction] Make progress by shouldering someone or something out of one's way:
      ‘he shouldered past a woman with a baby’
      ‘he shouldered his way through the seething mass of children’
      • ‘I shouldered past a junior officer and swung my lower body out the window.’
      • ‘They paled and backed away quickly, and he shouldered past them.’
      • ‘He paces back and forth, shouldering past the working crewmen.’
      • ‘He shouldered past the young men who never had a chance to claim the greatest prize.’
      • ‘Columns of kids shouldering past me in the crowd rouse feelings in me hitherto unknown.’
      • ‘To get away from them, he shouldered past Clark into the bedroom.’
      • ‘He slowly set his bow on the ground and walked slowly forward, shouldering past his soldiers.’
      • ‘Their friend shouldered past the entering woman, earning him a huffed comment he completely ignored.’
      • ‘She gave me a most unfriendly stare, shouldered past me and stomped off to inspect the works.’
      • ‘She arched an eyebrow, then shouldered past him to smile at Red.’
      • ‘As the paramedics shoulder through, a commotion breaks out near the spectators.’
      • ‘Dustin shouldered past Zackary and led Danielle to her class.’
      • ‘They shouldered past him and began searching through the inn, looking everywhere that a person could possibly hide.’
      • ‘He shoulders through the throng to claim what's rightfully his.’
      • ‘Amber spat at her, shouldering past her roughly out the door.’
      • ‘Then he came back out and shouldered past Pearson so he could go in and clean himself up properly.’

Phrases

  • be looking over one's shoulders

    • Be anxious or insecure about a possible danger:

      ‘takeovers are the thing that keeps suppliers looking over their shoulders’
      • ‘Now it looks like everybody is looking over their shoulders.’
      • ‘Consumer-electronics companies worldwide had better be looking over their shoulders.’
      • ‘Some of you pros should be looking over your shoulders.’
      • ‘People were looking over their shoulders, and it was hinted that the secret police had apprehended the ones that were missing.’
      • ‘They didn't want to be looking over their shoulders.’
      • ‘Portsmouth and Fulham will be looking over their shoulders.’
      • ‘Staff could be looking over their shoulders, worried about their jobs, for months.’
      • ‘Some of the more established teams should be looking over their shoulders.’
      • ‘Dave Pascoe added both conversions to cut the difference to just ten points, and suddenly Oxford were looking over their shoulders.’
      • ‘It will increase competition and everyone will be looking over their shoulders.’
  • put one's shoulder to the wheel

    • Set to work vigorously.

      • ‘We hope that, if the president will put his shoulder to the wheel, we'll be able to do it this time.’
      • ‘Anyone with influence must put their shoulder to the wheel.’
      • ‘Mr. Quinn also touched on developments at Ballycomey and in particular those who put their shoulder to the wheel to provide such a fine facility.’
      • ‘Sure, I've tried to live a benign life, putting my shoulder to the wheel for peace.’
      • ‘We believe that if we put our shoulder to the wheel, we can create jobs for Australian workers - but it will take a truly national effort.’
      • ‘He urged everyone involved to put their shoulder to the wheel and make this event the best All-Ireland Ploughing ever held.’
      • ‘Powell took his seat in the United Nations and put his shoulder to the wheel.’
      • ‘However, people had put their shoulder to the wheel and they should now take a bow.’
      • ‘It's easy to criticise, but we should put our shoulder to the wheel and do our bit to persuade our clients to get into the sector.’
      • ‘Muthukuda should put his shoulder to the wheel more.’
      get to work, get down to work, apply oneself, set to work, fall to, buckle down, get down to business, put one's hand to the plough, roll up one's sleeves, get things moving, start the ball rolling
      work hard, make an effort, strive, be assiduous, be diligent, be industrious, exert oneself
      give it one's best shot, get cracking, get one's finger out, get weaving, get the show on the road, get off one's backside
      get stuck in
      buckle to
      View synonyms
  • rub shoulders with

  • shoulder arms

    • Hold a rifle against the right side of the body, barrel upwards:

      ‘he shouldered arms and retreated’
      • ‘As the Oto and Missouria delegations approached, the soldiers came to attention, shouldered arms, dressed right and passed in review.’
  • a shoulder to cry on

    • Someone who listens sympathetically to someone's problems:

      ‘he was a fatherly shoulder to cry on when the going was tough’
      • ‘Whenever I needed someone to share my happiness, I always went to her, and whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on, she was always there.’
      • ‘Both of them said if I ever needed anything - a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen - to call them.’
      • ‘I mean, where's the harm in a guy wanting a drinking buddy, a shoulder to cry on and a sympathetic ear?’
      • ‘They offer us a shoulder to cry on and place a comforting arm around our shoulders to lighten the burden of sorrow and misfortune.’
      • ‘We're there for you if you need a shoulder to cry on as you heal.’
      • ‘Mrs O'Toole is a shoulder to cry on for her customers and has experience in talking about the most sensitive subjects.’
      • ‘Rudman proved to be a shoulder to cry on, just as Stoppard had been eight years earlier, when her marriage had developed cracks.’
      • ‘Where were her 14 bridesmaids when she needed a shoulder to cry on?’
      • ‘You also provide a shoulder to cry on and open arms for hugs.’
      • ‘Sadie, 38, who has three children with Jude, has now offered the devastated actress a shoulder to cry on.’
  • shoulder to shoulder

    • 1Side by side:

      ‘everyone is bunched together shoulder to shoulder’
      • ‘In Westminster, scores of policemen stood shoulder to shoulder to shield the people's representatives from their constituents' anger.’
      • ‘In battle, Dave says, he and his brothers-in-arms would have stood shoulder to shoulder, left side forward, shields locked, spears angled above the shield wall to jab at the enemy.’
      • ‘Side by side they stood, shoulder to shoulder, and with their hats held to their chests.’
      • ‘While in many paintings the Belgian is a passive supervisor, in both sculptures, the Belgian officer and the African soldier stand shoulder to shoulder.’
      • ‘Young music fans don't mind being shoulder to shoulder at a concert, bouncing or even moshing to the beat.’
      • ‘We sat, together, shoulder to shoulder, and watched the sun set.’
      • ‘I was shoulder to shoulder with Connor on one side, Drew on the other.’
      • ‘Many couples keep their upper halves locked together, shoulder to shoulder.’
      side by side, abreast, level, beside each other, cheek by jowl
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Acting together towards a common aim; with united effort:
        ‘we fought shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the country’
        • ‘Along the beaches of Normandy old combatants from Germany and Great Britain will be standing shoulder to shoulder to commemorate the last great action of the Second World War.’
        • ‘We've got to stand shoulder to shoulder and keep a united voice.’
        • ‘And I'll stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone who's willing to stand with me, even if it is Andrew Sullivan.’
        • ‘Very often we have to work shoulder to shoulder with one another and do not want a situation that compromises that fraternity or causes tensions.’
        • ‘New York is a city of neighborhoods, of people working together, shoulder to shoulder.’
        • ‘Many volunteers from all backgrounds have been working shoulder to shoulder to put this project together.’
        • ‘And that's why I'm so glad that the leadership of the Muslim community here has stood shoulder to shoulder with everyone else in it.’
        • ‘One year ago I said to you that our country was correct to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States.’
        • ‘Do they not stand there, shoulder to shoulder, united as a team for a united South Africa?’
        • ‘If all the nations stand together shoulder to shoulder the very few nations left would be utterly overwhelmed.’
        united, together, jointly, working together, in partnership, in collaboration, in cooperation, cooperatively, side by side, arm in arm, hand in hand, in unity, in unison, in alliance, in league, in concert, concertedly, conjointly, as one
        View synonyms
  • straight from the shoulder

    • 1(of a blow) swift and well delivered.

      • ‘My father had taught me to punch straight from the shoulder and had said, ‘Never hit anyone. But if you have to, hit them so hard they don't hit you back!’’
    • 2(of words) frank or direct:

      ‘sometimes he spoke straight from the shoulder and sometimes in puzzles’
      • ‘Sparked by straight from the shoulder comments from sitting MP Ann Cryer, there's a real hope that meaningful discussions can take place about the future direction of Keighley.’
      • ‘My mail indicates that this country needs people who are willing to sit down and give straight from the shoulder advice.’
      • ‘If they had complaints, he wanted to hear them straight from the shoulder.’
      frankly, candidly, honestly, directly, forthrightly, bluntly, plainly, roundly, explicitly, outspokenly, unequivocally, unambiguously, with no holds barred, without beating about the bush, without mincing words, man to man, woman to woman
      pulling no punches
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English sculdor, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch schouder and German Schulter.

Pronunciation:

shoulder

/ˈʃəʊldə/