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[shing-guh lz]
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noun (used with a singular or plural verb) Pathology.
  1. a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, especially by reactivated virus in an older person, characterized by skin eruptions and pain along the course of involved sensory nerves.

Origin of shingles

1350–1400; < Medieval Latin cingulum (Latin: girdle; cf. cincture) translation of Greek zṓnē zone in its medical sense; see -s3
Also called herpes zoster.


[shing-guh l]
  1. a thin piece of wood, slate, metal, asbestos, or the like, usually oblong, laid in overlapping rows to cover the roofs and walls of buildings.
  2. a woman's close-cropped haircut.
  3. Informal. a small signboard, especially as hung before a doctor's or lawyer's office.
verb (used with object), shin·gled, shin·gling.
  1. to cover with shingles, as a roof.
  2. to cut (hair) close to the head.
  1. hang out one's shingle, Informal. to establish a professional practice, especially in law or medicine; open an office.
  2. have/be a shingle short, Australian Slang. to be mentally disturbed, mad, or eccentric.

Origin of shingle1

1150–1200; Middle English scincle, sc(h)ingle < Medieval Latin scindula lath, shingle (Middle English -g- apparently by association with another unidentified word), Latin scandula (Medieval Latin -i- perhaps by association with Greek schíza lath, splinter, or related words)
Related formsshin·gler, noun


[shing-guh l]
  1. small, waterworn stones or pebbles such as lie in loose sheets or beds on a beach.
  2. a beach, riverbank, or other area covered with such small pebbles or stones.

Origin of shingle2

1530–40; apparently variant of earlier chingle; compare Norwegian singel small stones


[shing-guh l]
verb (used with object), shin·gled, shin·gling. Metalworking.
  1. to hammer or squeeze (puddled iron) into a bloom or billet, eliminating as much slag as possible; knobble.

Origin of shingle3

1665–75; < French cingler to whip, beat < German zängeln, derivative of Zange tongs
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shingles

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • A second potato burst like a bombshell on the shingles behind him.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Shakes were used for shingles, and even––when nailed on frames––for doors.

    The Boy Settlers

    Noah Brooks

  • There's a bunch of shingles at least in every stump ye've left.

    Blazed Trail Stories

    Stewart Edward White

  • The rain, chilled almost into hail, drummed on the shingles.

  • As regards the amount of shingles made, even dealers are much in the dark.

    Old Mackinaw

    W. P. Strickland.

British Dictionary definitions for shingles


  1. (functioning as singular) an acute viral disease affecting the ganglia of certain nerves, characterized by inflammation, pain, and skin eruptions along the course of the affected nerveTechnical names: herpes zoster, zoster

Word Origin

C14: from Medieval Latin cingulum girdle, rendering Greek zōnē zone


  1. a thin rectangular tile, esp one made of wood, that is laid with others in overlapping rows to cover a roof or a wall
  2. a woman's short-cropped hairstyle
  3. US and Canadian a small signboard or nameplate fixed outside the office of a doctor, lawyer, etc
  4. a shingle short Australian informal unintelligent or mentally subnormal
verb (tr)
  1. to cover (a roof or a wall) with shingles
  2. to cut (the hair) in a short-cropped style
Derived Formsshingler, noun

Word Origin

C12 scingle, from Late Latin scindula a split piece of wood, from Latin scindere to split


  1. coarse gravel, esp the pebbles found on beaches
  2. a place or area strewn with shingle
Derived Formsshingly, adjective

Word Origin

C16: of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian singl pebbles, Frisian singel gravel


  1. (tr) metallurgy to hammer or squeeze the slag out of (iron) after puddling in the production of wrought iron

Word Origin

C17: from Old French dialect chingler to whip, from chingle belt, from Latin cingula girdle; see cingulum
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for shingles


"inflammatory disease of the skin," late 14c., from Medieval Latin cingulus (loan-translation of Greek zoster "girdle"), variant of Latin cingulum "girdle," from cingere "to gird" (see cinch (n.)). The inflammation often extends around the middle of the body, like a girdle.



"thin piece of wood," c.1200, scincle, from Late Latin scindula (also the source of German Schindel), altered (by influence of Greek schidax "lath" or schindalmos "splinter") from Latin scandula "roof tile," from scindere "to cleave, split," from PIE root *sked- "to split." Meaning "small signboard" is first attested 1842. Sense of "woman's short haircut" is from 1924; the verb meaning "to cut the hair so as to give the impression of overlapping shingles" is from 1857.



"loose stones on a seashore," 1510s, probably related to Norwegian singl "small stones," or North Frisian singel "gravel," both said to be echoic of the sound of water running over pebbles.



"cover with shingles" (of houses), 1560s, from shingle (n.). Related: Shingled; shingling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

shingles in Medicine


  1. An acute infection caused by a herpesvirus and characterized by inflammation of the sensory ganglia of certain spinal or cranial nerves and the eruption of vesicles along the affected nerve path. It usually strikes only one side of the body and is often accompanied by severe neuralgia.herpes zoster zona zoster
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

shingles in Science


  1. See under herpes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with shingles


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.