Definition of shrug in English:



  • 1 Raise (one's shoulders) slightly and momentarily to express doubt, ignorance, or indifference.

    ‘Jimmy looked enquiringly at Pete, who shrugged his shoulders’
    [no object] ‘he just shrugged and didn't look interested’
    • ‘Try shrugging your shoulders up and down and rotating them in a circular motion.’
    • ‘I turn a touch, stopped in my tracks, to see the bar-manager shrug his shoulder in subdued agreement.’
    • ‘He answered, shrugging his shoulders and stuffing his hands into his jeans pockets.’
    • ‘He gave her one look before shrugging his shoulders and heading out the door.’
    • ‘Annette did a short shrug that I'd seen her do a million times during the interview.’
    • ‘He pointed at me across the table, shrugging his head in the direction of the house.’
    • ‘Cyclist Lance Armstrong, en route to a fourth Tour de France victory, shrugs off accusations that he takes drugs’
    • ‘Heath's eyes softened and he dropped his hands to his lap, shrugging his shoulders.’
    • ‘The financial controller of a foreign retailer shrugs his shoulders.’
    • ‘It is such a pity that their time and our taxes are being wasted on something which has the majority of our citizens shrugging their shoulder.’
    • ‘Instead of shrugging his shoulders, he became agitated and a sarcastic torrent of words flew out.’
    • ‘In the past this kind of stunt would have been shrugged off as a tasteless example of daytime television.’
    • ‘Guzman pauses, then shrugs her shoulders and sighs.’
    • ‘After a few more uptempo hits Joe turned questioningly to one of his musicians, shrugging slightly.’
    • ‘She gave Pete a pointed looked before shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders.’
    • ‘Most of us have been guilty of shrugging our shoulders in the past over natural disasters in South Asia.’
    • ‘She just shrugs, and the jacket begins to slide off her shoulders.’
    • ‘Carl looked at the man in the corner for a second before shrugging his shoulders and getting up and walking away in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘Ling shakes her head in degust at Ashley, who just shrugs.’
    • ‘At the end they didn't actually leave the stage but just stumbled around shrugging their shoulders looking lost.’
    1. 1.1Dismiss something as unimportant.
      ‘the managing director shrugged off the criticism’
      • ‘The fact that he wasn't shying away from the fact that I wasn't human, and was simply shrugging it off as unimportant gave me some strength.’
      • ‘He shrugged it off and yelled at some kid who forgot their hall pass.’
      • ‘She stared at him, confused by the cold dismissal, but shrugged it off.’
      • ‘How did one just shrug it off and put it to the side, pretending to forget about everything?’
      • ‘I shower her with pathetic gratitude, and she shrugs it off, embarrassed.’
      • ‘Ashlee just shrugged the criticism off as usual, but deep down I know it hurts her.’
      • ‘Any determination to ignore them or to simply shrug them off would sacrifice the only weapon realistically available in the fight.’
      • ‘He had completely forgotten about the conversation, and just shrugged it off.’
      • ‘He's been threatening us on occasion for a year now, so I shrugged it off.’
      • ‘When asked if the weather bothered them, they shrugged it off.’
      • ‘The time has come, say its critics, to shrug it off, to clear it from the desk, to consign it to outer darkness.’
      • ‘He was told about it and he kind of shrugged it off as we did.’
      • ‘She shrugged it off as unimportant information as the man asked another question.’
      • ‘He shrugged them off, dismissing them as his mind playing tricks in a strange place.’
      • ‘The new people looked confused and the veterans of the school shrugged it off and gobbled down the sandwich forgetting about the name in the bag.’
      • ‘My husband shrugged it off as just another one of my confusing emotional episodes, soon to pass with a lot of chocolate and a strong pot of coffee.’
      • ‘She shrugs them off at the turn like someone would an insect that sneaked inside their clothes.’
      • ‘She'd tried to shrug it off, but knew she couldn't ignore it.’
      disregard, dismiss, take no notice of, ignore, set aside, pay no heed to, forget, not trouble about, gloss over, play down, talk down, make light of, make little of, make nothing of, minimize, discount, diminish, downgrade, trivialize
      View synonyms


  • 1An act or instance of shrugging one's shoulders.

    ‘she lifted her shoulders in a dismissive shrug’
    • ‘Greer grunted again, accompanying the sound with a short shrug and a jerk of the head.’
    • ‘He lifted a shoulder in a one-sided shrug and then lit a cigarette.’
    • ‘Blake moved his left shoulder in a half-hearted shrug and sat down next to her on the rock, carefully cradling his right arm.’
    • ‘She gushed while Sol just looked at me with a bemused expression and raised one shoulder in a short shrug.’
    • ‘Bryce hitched one shoulder in a shrug and reached for a fork.’
    • ‘I commented with a gentle shrug of the shoulders.’
    • ‘Victor smiles and shrugs, digs his hands into his leather pockets and trudges on across the damp sand.’
    • ‘His facial expressions, his shrugs, were professional-quality ridicule.’
    • ‘All this we could handle with a mere shrug of the shoulders and a wry grin if only the sun were out and the sky was blue.’
    • ‘In recent years, security while backpacking has sadly become too great an issue to dismiss with a shrug.’
    • ‘For the third time, I rolled my eyes adding a shrug of my shoulders.’
    • ‘There is no outrage, just a shrug of the shoulders.’
    • ‘What was anticipated as a big fat Greek embrace turned instead into a casual shrug of the shoulders.’
    • ‘‘You're not going to stop me,’ Tamora replied with a shrug of her shoulders.’
    • ‘If that doesn't work, he will simply dismiss criticism with an arrogant shrug.’
    • ‘He shunted away her protests with a shrug of his shoulders.’
    • ‘Shoulder shrugs are yet another effective way to decrease stress, since most of us feel stress in our shoulders.’
    • ‘You can cultivate a laconic shrug of the shoulders for use when the conversation turns to your putting, or putting in general.’
    • ‘Any restaurant that gets a shrug of the shoulders and a hand waving in the manner of an umpire should consider it a moral victory.’
    • ‘While the shrug is a gesture of renunciation, it is also a performance that maintains dignity.’
  • 2A woman's close-fitting cardigan or jacket, cut short at the front and back so that only the arms and shoulders are covered.

    • ‘Lacy airy knits will be made into mid 1960's empire cape styles as summer shrugs that do the job Pashminas once did.’
    • ‘We suggest matching a simple camisole with a shrug.’
    • ‘A combination of the two, the shoulder shrug gives you the convenience of bolero sleeves and the elegance of a draped scarf.’
    • ‘Try a furry shrug or caplet or anything with some feathers.’
    • ‘Worn with a feather shrug you will ooze elegance and style.’
    • ‘Real or faux fur, shrugs, stoles or capelets are also great alternatives.’
    • ‘Julian Macdonald was master of a sophisticated show that had mink bomber jackets, leather seamed skirts and snakeskin pants worn with fox fur shrugs.’
    • ‘Also key is quirky detail: a velvet ribbon tied at the waist of a jacket; a fur shrug worn over a sloppy knit; a brooch or a corsage fastening a cardigan.’
    • ‘Also a light brown camisole tank top, and a short white sweater shrug that had a chocolate brown colored tie in the front.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘fidget’): of unknown origin.