Definition of shunt in English:



  • 1[with object] Push or pull (a train or part of a train) from the main line to a siding or from one track to another.

    ‘their train had been shunted into a siding’
    • ‘A grand total of six trains per day shunts through Fearn.’
    • ‘When these working-class allies tried to send a delegation to the capital, hostile railway workers shunted their train into a siding and left them stranded.’
    • ‘All the passengers were told that our train would be shunted across the suburbs to join up with the other train, now waiting for us at another terminus, and this would take two or three hours.’
    • ‘The train was shunted onto a siding and wreckage was strewn along 200 yards of track.’
    • ‘Spirits lifted as the train shunted into Kilmarnock, passengers disembarking with a spring in their step and £signs in their eyes in readiness for the spring sale.’
    • ‘We wandered past many carriages waiting for the shiny new engine to shunt around to the front of the train.’
    • ‘Then one morning they awaken to find wild animals in an abandoned circus train which has been shunted off to the wrong station.’
    • ‘At the same time the theatre management approached the railways and the trains stopped shunting in the evenings.’
    • ‘The train shunted forward and back unbalancing the mouse and forcing him to grip my arm with his sharp claws to avoid falling to the floor.’
    • ‘Efficiency and continuity probably do require that the train be shunted into a well-prepared and easily accessible Belgian siding.’
    • ‘The engine won't have to shunt and pull, there will be a loop.’
    • ‘At Steeton railway station at a quarter to five on the morning of October 11, 1943, the Leeds-Edinburgh express collided with a freight train being shunted into a siding.’
    • ‘Details are sketchy, but it seems that on Thursday, two trains carrying high explosives were being shunted in a freight yard, when they came into contact with a power line.’
    • ‘The North Korean side said the accident was between two train wagons that were being shunted on a siding, not a collision of two trains as had been previously believed.’
    • ‘How do you coordinate and shunt trains so they don't smash into each other while going in opposite directions on the same track?’
    • ‘Even the sound of trains shunting in sidings has been asked for, according to a new review of funeral ceremonies.’
    • ‘The train was eventually shunted to Kildare where it was left standing for another 40 minutes or so until a replacement engine arrived.’
    • ‘The engine of the goods train is shunting by the track near the godown.’
    • ‘Special trains were shunted into the sidings about twice a week with building materials for the aerodrome which was being built then.’
    • ‘Eventually got to work 35 minutes late, once the offending train had shunted into the sidings.’
    1. 1.1Push or shove (someone or something)
      ‘chairs were being shunted back and forth’
      • ‘He attempted to cover up his blunders by shunting the blame onto dead subordinates.’
      • ‘Other cases have seen thieves shunt a vehicle and confront the owner after they leave their car to inspect the damage.’
      • ‘Originally sited in the Guildhall, it was soon shunted off to Exhibition Buildings, then, 50 years ago, to West Bank Park.’
      • ‘Several other Argus executives were also shunted sideways.’
      • ‘Eddie's going to show Carr what was lost by shunting him to the backbench.’
      • ‘Travellers are shunted into sites that are like urban slums, only without the amenities.’
      • ‘A surfeit of properties being shunted onto the market by owners keen to cash in and growing concern over the number of Leith harbour developments are being blamed.’
      • ‘Rams boss Jim Smith claimed today's win had shunted his side to within five points of their 39-point target for safety and praised his defence for another sterling rearguard performance.’
      • ‘As the second vehicle was shunted to the side of the road, officers saw Smith apparently waving a weapon.’
      • ‘Patients are being shunted around the city because there are not enough A&E beds.’
      • ‘The result is that patients from far-flung areas have begun to displace local patients, causing the latter to be shunted elsewhere or simply refused admission.’
      • ‘He ploughed into a metal container, which was shunted 60 ft before coming to rest within inches of the bungalow.’
      • ‘Their sedan collided with an articulated lorry already in the outside lane when they pulled out to overtake and were shunted into the path of an oncoming mini van.’
      • ‘Left with nothing but the clothes on his back, he was shunted between neighbours in Ruxley Lane and grandparents in Clapham and Croydon.’
      • ‘The train operating companies have shunted all the blame onto Railtrack and have received compensation for delays.’
      • ‘A lorry nine times the weight of the minibus struck the bus head-on, flipping it over and over, and shunting it back up the hill.’
      • ‘He shunted firmly into the sidings the prospect of granting long-term rights to run certain services, seeking to speed the pace of improvement.’
      • ‘They mainly involved cars skidding into fence posts and shunting other vehicles.’
      • ‘This year, the Super League clubs' entry into the competition was put back six weeks, while the final has been shunted back to September 18, ahead of the Super League play-offs.’
      • ‘The trouble with labelling fiction is that it can get shunted into the sidings of literature.’
    2. 1.2Direct or divert (someone or something) to a less important place or position.
      ‘amateurs were gradually being shunted to filing jobs’
      • ‘For far too long now, the youths have had the feeling of having been shunted into the position of secondary citizens.’
      • ‘The waiting list report from Audit Scotland, while clearing trusts of fiddling figures, found some operating a two-tier system, with patients being shunted on to ‘deferred’ lists.’
      • ‘It is an ability that stood in him good stead as he was shunted around the back three until eventually finding his way back to his natural starting position at No.10.’
      • ‘Thank you for coming and helping us and liberating us, but that doesn't mean shunting us to the sides.’
      • ‘In Ohio, more than 155,000 voters were shunted to these second-class ballots.’
      • ‘When it was determined not to be a Rembrandt at all, it was shunted off to a hidden corner The painting hasn't changed, but the meaning of it has for its viewers.’
      • ‘After the merger of her company, Anna, a divorced mother, finds herself suddenly removed from her old position and shunted about, even humiliated.’
      • ‘But he'd been shunted into staff jobs instead of command positions in World War II.’
      • ‘When a freelance writer in his fifties or sixties once came in to pitch stories, uninterested senior editors shunted him down to Macfarlane.’
      • ‘All four West Lothian candidates were shunted out.’
      • ‘The chances of his enemies shunting him onto the back benches have not.’
      • ‘To top it all, heads of civic organisations were shunted out to inconspicuous postings when major projects were in crucial stages.’
      • ‘It is hardly a secret that one of the main reasons he was shunted out of the cabinet and into the party organisation was the friction that had risen between him and Advani.’
      • ‘Autograph seekers who had waited outside in the rain for hours were shunted aside by thuggish bodyguards as Mr. Crumb was whisked into a stretch limo.’
  • 2[with object] Provide (an electrical current) with a conductor joining two points of a circuit, through which more or less of the current may be diverted.


  • 1An act of pushing or shoving something.

    • ‘The countless mini-roundabouts popping up where there just simply isn't room for a roundabout is another danger, increasing the number of small shunts & bumps.’
  • 2An electrical conductor joining two points of a circuit, through which more or less of a current may be diverted.

    • ‘One indication is a shunt or a short circuit of a medium between the common control element and the devices.’
    1. 2.1Surgery An alternative path for the passage of the blood or other body fluid.
      [as modifier] ‘shunt surgery’
      • ‘This medical condition usually requires the surgical placement of a shunt system to divert cerebrospinal fluid to another part of the body.’
      • ‘Haemodynamic effects are similar to those found with surgical shunts, with a lower procedural morbidity and mortality.’
      • ‘Preliminary results appear promising: fewer babies who have had surgery require shunts to drain fluid from their brains.’
      • ‘She had to have surgery for a liver shunt at 13 weeks.’
      • ‘Doctors put in a shunt to drain the fluid in his brain.’


Middle English (in the sense move suddenly aside): perhaps from shun.