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Words nearby shucks
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.
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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).
Aw shucks. Thanks, Chris. Appreciate this. https://t.co/JxdCjme189
— Teresa Woodard (@twoodard8) March 26, 2020
Well, shucks: Booklist gave my book a starred review & called it "meticulous," which I think is a nice way of saying "obsessive insomniac"?
— Kristen Radtke (@KristenRadtke) December 20, 2016
Updated: She stayed in bed till I finished eating cereal. Came out knowing damn well I already ate, and said, “have you ate yet? I can make waffles? O you ate? Shucks, looks like we aren’t having waffles.”
— Mr. Ohio (@MrOH1O) March 21, 2020
Try using shucks!
Is shucks used correctly in the following sentence?
Well, shucks, I don’t know what to say—thanks so much, everybody.
Example sentences from the Web for shucks
Chris Stein of Blondie catches Ramone with an “aw, shucks” expression just after he drops a plate of food.‘All Good Cretins Go to Heaven’: Dee Dee Ramone’s Twisted Punk Paintings|Melissa Leon|December 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
I was sort of middle-American “aw, shucks” guy for a big part of my career, so the extrovert is always fun.
The shredder and husker turns the hitherto useless cornstalk into food, and at the same time husks, or shucks, the corn.Agriculture for Beginners|Charles William Burkett
Of course, if you'd been brash and ignorant in your first calculations—if you'd made a fool of yourself at the start—but shucks!The Spenders|Harry Leon Wilson
After supper was have corn shuckings, or on rainy days, and sometimes we shucks 500 bushels.
Dey had dirt floors and beds dat was made out of co'n shucks or straw.
The pecan trees were tall, somewhat like maples, with the nuts growing on them in shucks, after the manner of walnuts.Dotty Dimple Out West|Sophie May