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verb (used with object)
  1. to evade (work, duty, responsibility, etc.).
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verb (used without object)
  1. to evade work, duty, etc.
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  1. a shirker.
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Origin of shirk

First recorded in 1625–35; obscurely akin to shark2
Related formsun·shirked, adjectiveun·shirk·ing, adjective

Synonyms for shirk

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shirk

pussyfoot, fence, cheat, sidestep, goldbrick, elude, slip, duck, creep, quit, bypass, dodge, slink, lurk, sneak, parry, malinger, snake, shun, skulk

Examples from the Web for shirk

Contemporary Examples of shirk

Historical Examples of shirk

  • We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither.

  • You work till you are tired of it; then you go off and shirk, and call it studying.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • And here the demagogue arose and bade her shirk no issue, even the red flag.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • I do not court publicity, but I cannot shirk my duty because it entails that.

    The Crevice

    William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander

  • Sick of life—to tell you the truth; but what would have been the good to shirk it—in—in—that way?

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for shirk


  1. to avoid discharging (work, a duty, etc); evade
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noun Also: shirker
  1. a person who shirks
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Word Origin for shirk

C17: probably from German Schurke rogue; see shark ²


  1. Islam
    1. the fundamental sin of regarding anything as equal to Allah
    2. any belief that is considered to be in opposition to Allah and Islam
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Word Origin for shirk

from Arabic: association
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 shirk


1630s, "to practice fraud or trickery," also a noun (1630s, now obsolete) "a needy, disreputable parasite" [OED], perhaps from German schurke "scoundrel, rogue, knave, villain" (see shark (n.)). Sense of "evade one's work or duty" first recorded 1785, originally in slang. Related: Shirked; shirking.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper