verb (used without object)
  1. to evade work, duty, etc.
  1. a shirker.

Origin of shirk

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

Synonyms for shirk Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shirked

Contemporary Examples of shirked

Historical Examples of shirked

  • And, besides, he felt like a coward who had shirked his duty.

  • It was telling the duke that he shirked danger as plain as ever I have heard a man told.

  • But these he shirked where possible, as he had shirked his lessons in earlier days.

    The Strolling Saint

    Raphael Sabatini

  • It should not be said that the son of David Allison flinched or shirked a duty!

    Rodney, the Ranger

    John V. Lane

  • John Ellwell shirked then; it was not much to do to go to the front.

    The Man Who Wins

    Robert Herrick

British Dictionary definitions for shirked


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

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

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 shirked



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper