See more synonyms for shrug on
verb (used with object), shrugged, shrug·ging.
  1. to raise and contract (the shoulders), expressing indifference, disdain, etc.
verb (used without object), shrugged, shrug·ging.
  1. to raise and contract the shoulders.
  1. the movement of raising and contracting the shoulders.
  2. a short sweater or jacket that ends above or at the waistline.
Verb Phrases
  1. shrug off,
    1. to disregard; minimize: to shrug off an insult.
    2. to rid oneself of: to shrug off the effects of a drug.

Origin of shrug

1350–1400; (v.) Middle English schruggen to shudder, shrug < ?; (noun) late Middle English shrugge a tug, pull, derivative of the v.
Related formsun·shrug·ging, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shrug

Contemporary Examples of shrug

Historical Examples of shrug

  • He returned with a shrug of the shoulders to his table in the morning-room.


    William J. Locke

  • The shoulders of Mr Verloc, without actually moving, suggested a shrug.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • "They are paying themselves for the mules and horses," said Fray Henriques with a shrug.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • "That you will find out," she said, with a shrug of her shoulders.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.

British Dictionary definitions for shrug


verb shrugs, shrugging or shrugged
  1. to draw up and drop (the shoulders) abruptly in a gesture expressing indifference, contempt, ignorance, etc
  1. the gesture so made
  2. a woman's short jacket or close-fitting cardigan

Word Origin for shrug

C14: of uncertain origin
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 shrug

c.1400, schurgyng, of uncertain origin. Perhaps connected to Danish skrugge "to stoop, crouch." Related: Shrugged; shrugging. To shrug (something) off "dismiss" is recorded from 1909.


a shoulder motion meant to express indifference, want of an answer, etc., 1590s, from shrug (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper