Definition of shirk in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Avoid or neglect (a duty or responsibility)

    ‘their sole motive is to shirk responsibility and rip off the company’
    • ‘Renouncing these prodigal sons and attempting to lay them at the door of the west is shirking responsibility.’
    • ‘‘The government has steered clear of the problem and shirked its duty,’ he said.’
    • ‘By ignoring their epistemic and metaphysical brokenness, we are shirking our Christian duty to truly show love for our neighbor.’
    • ‘If not, they are shirking their duty - both to the national defense and to the very goal of diversity that they profess to cherish.’
    • ‘Vote, it says, or you have shirked your religious duty.’
    • ‘I can never be accused of shirking my responsibilities.’
    • ‘Insightful without being pedantic, learned but not overbearing, the book is full of humorous anecdotes while never shirking the factual responsibility of the historian.’
    • ‘No decent Aussie wants to support queue jumping or shirking responsibility.’
    • ‘‘It is a matter of law and not of fact,’ she said, adding that in her opinion, to decline to hear the matter would be shirking her responsibility as a judge.’
    • ‘She suffers, true; she complains, also true; but she has not shirked her duty, nor shied away from pain.’
    • ‘The root cause is specialization amongst the lower ranks in the Force, which is a cover for shirking responsibility.’
    • ‘Who takes action, and with what promptness, against teachers seen to be even brazenly shirking their duties?’
    • ‘And they have suggested strongly that America is shirking its moral responsibility when it refuses to venture abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’
    • ‘Soon they were slacking off in school, shirking responsibilities, and turning to harder drugs for a better high.’
    • ‘Your columnists would be shirking their responsibility if they ignored these factors.’
    • ‘Here Moses claims God is shirking responsibility for his people.’
    • ‘All through those weeks of killings the state and Central government kept on shirking their responsibilities.’
    • ‘But he's going to do it shamefully and in full recognisance that he's basically shirking his intellectual responsibilities to the world.’
    • ‘We will do so without shirking our responsibility to the people of this district.’
    • ‘The lighting of the stove and the provision of the tea were done on a rota basis with nobody shirking their duty including the washing up.’
    evade, dodge, avoid, get out of, sidestep, shuffle off, run away from, shrink from, shun, slide out of, play truant from, skip, miss, not attend
    evade one's duty, be remiss, be negligent, skulk, play truant, malinger
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1shirk fromno object , usually with negative Be unwilling to do (something difficult)
      ‘we will not shirk from closing a school if the evidence should justify it’


  • A person who shirks.

    • ‘His status as a shirk would normally render him somewhat of a pariah.’
    • ‘The boy was a shirk, anyway, so he wouldn't really be missed.’


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘practice fraud or trickery’): from obsolete shirk ‘sponger’, perhaps from German Schurke ‘scoundrel’.