/ (ʃʌks) US and Canadian informal /
Save This Word!

pl n
something of little value (esp in the phrase not worth shucks)
an exclamation of disappointment, annoyance, etc
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?
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


What does shucks mean?

Shucks is most commonly used to indicate bashfulness, modesty, or disappointment. It’s an interjection, which is a short way of expressing an emotion, usually in one word.

Shucks has a folksy, rural feel to it. It is especially used in the phrase aw shucks, which expresses the same things as when shucks is used by itself. This phrase led to the adjective aw-shucks, meaning modest, self-deprecating, or shy, perhaps in an artificial way, as in Don’t be fooled by his aw-shucks personality—he’s very ambitious when it comes to business.  

Shucks can also mean something of little value. This sense is especially used in the phrases not worth shucks and don’t care shucks.

Both senses of the word are used primarily in the U.S. and Canada.

Example: Well, shucks, that’s about the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.​

Where does shucks come from?

The first records of the use of shucks as a folksy interjection come from the 1800s, and it’s thought to have originated in the U.S., but it’s ultimate origin is uncertain. Aw-shucks has been used as an adjective since at least the 1930s.

The verb shuck means to remove an outer covering, like a husk or pod, such as from corn. Such a covering can also be called a shuck (though it’s much more commonly used as a verb). Perhaps relatedly, one of the meanings of the term shucks is something worthless, and it’s especially used in expressions like I don’t care shucks about it or That ain’t worth shucks. 

But shucks is most commonly used as an interjection. It can be used to express disappointment or regret, as in Well, shucks, I wish I could have been there. In this way, shucks is sometimes seen as a euphemism for a curse word—meaning a milder version of it that won’t offend people (in the same way that the word shoot is sometimes used).

Shucks is also commonly used in response to receiving a compliment or a gift, especially to say things like Aw shucks, you didn’t have to go to all that trouble to get me a birthday present. When used in this way, it typically indicates that the speaker is humbled or embarrassed by the attention. Because shucks is associated with the speech of people who live in rural areas, it can be used as kind of a parody of that type of speech, or perhaps a not completely genuine way of showing modesty or bashfulness. Describing a person or their actions with the adjective aw-shucks sometimes implies that their folksy demeanor may not be completely genuine.

Perhaps relatedly, another meaning of the word shuck as a verb is “to lie to or deceive,” as in Don’t get shucked by that huckster. This sense of the word may be based on the idea that the expression aw shucks is sometimes used as a way of faking ignorance or unsophistication. For example, if aw shucks is used in an apology, it may be genuine, but it may also be a way of trying to give the sense that the apologizer didn’t know any better, as in Aw shucks, I’m sorry ma’am, but I’m just a simple country mechanic and didn’t know you’d want that fancy motor oil y’all got in the city.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for shucks?

What are some words that share a root or word element with shucks

What are some words that often get used in discussing shucks?

How is shucks used in real life?

This word is most often encountered as an expression of shyness nowadays, but you’ll also see it in food in relation to oysters (shucking their shells) or corn (shucking their husks).



Try using shucks!

Is shucks used correctly in the following sentence?

Well, shucks, I don’t know what to say—thanks so much, everybody.

How to use shucks in a sentence