a shaped piece of horn, metal, or the like, inserted in the heel of a shoe to make it slip on more easily.

verb (used with object)

to force into a limited or tight space: Can you shoehorn four of us into the back seat of your car?

Origin of shoehorn

First recorded in 1580–90; shoe + horn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shoehorn

Contemporary Examples of shoehorn

Historical Examples of shoehorn

  • Do you know that some mornings he has to get his hat on with a shoehorn.


    James Joyce

  • He cant find a shoehorn with which to get into his breeches.

    Conscript 2989

    Irving Crump

  • Even if he had any flavor and wasn't tougher'n a shoehorn, he's too much for us to eat.

    The Black Fawn

    James Arthur Kjelgaard

  • To dig up de profundis a shoehorn that you need is a more remarkable achievement than to unearth a new Pompeii.


    Lawton Mackall

  • He certainly has arrived at what a witty American friend of mine would call the "Shoehorn stage."

British Dictionary definitions for shoehorn



a smooth curved implement of horn, metal, plastic, etc, inserted at the heel of a shoe to ease the foot into it


(tr) to cram (people or things) into a very small space
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 shoehorn

1580s, from shoe (n.) + horn (n.); earlier shoeing-horn (mid-15c.).


in the figurative sense of "to put or thrust (something somewhere) by means of a 'tool,' " 1859, from shoehorn (n.). Earlier it meant "to cuckold" (mid-17c.), with a play on horn.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper