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See more synonyms for shuttle on Thesaurus.com
  1. a device in a loom for passing or shooting the weft thread through the shed from one side of the web to the other, usually consisting of a boat-shaped piece of wood containing a bobbin on which the weft thread is wound.
  2. the sliding container that carries the lower thread in a sewing machine.
  3. a public conveyance, as a train, airplane, or bus, that travels back and forth at regular intervals over a particular route, especially a short route or one connecting two transportation systems.
  4. shuttlecock(def 1).
  5. (often initial capital letter) space shuttle.
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verb (used with object), shut·tled, shut·tling.
  1. to cause (someone or something) to move to and fro or back and forth by or as if by a shuttle: They shuttled me all over the seventh floor.
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verb (used without object), shut·tled, shut·tling.
  1. to move to and fro: constantly shuttling between city and suburb.
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Origin of shuttle

before 900; Middle English shotil (noun), Old English scytel dart, arrow; cognate with Old Norse skutill harpoon; akin to shut, shoot1
Related formsshut·tle·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shuttle

train, spacecraft, plane, airplane, commute, transporter, travel, spaceport

Examples from the Web for shuttle

Contemporary Examples of shuttle

Historical Examples of shuttle

  • The loom-girl in these parts is never too early at her harness and shuttle.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • Do you think you are going to make me run to and fro like a shuttle?

  • The shuttle will be made by the carpenter; the awl by the smith or skilled person.

  • We cut with a knife, we pierce with an awl, we weave with a shuttle, we name with a name.

  • And as a shuttle separates the warp from the woof, so a name distinguishes the natures of things.

British Dictionary definitions for shuttle


  1. a bobbin-like device used in weaving for passing the weft thread between the warp threads
  2. a small bobbin-like device used to hold the thread in a sewing machine or in tatting, knitting, etc
    1. a bus, train, aircraft, etc, that plies between two points, esp one that offers a frequent service over a short route
    2. short for space shuttle
    1. the movement between various countries of a diplomat in order to negotiate with rulers who refuse to meet each other
    2. (as modifier)shuttle diplomacy
  3. badminton short for shuttlecock
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  1. to move or cause to move by or as if by a shuttle
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Word Origin for shuttle

Old English scytel bolt; related to Middle High German schüzzel, Swedish skyttel. See shoot, shot
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 shuttle


Old English scytel "a dart, arrow," from West Germanic *skutilaz (cf. Old Norse skutill "harpoon"), from PIE *skeud- "to shoot, to chase, to throw, to project" (see shoot (v.)). The original sense in English is obsolete; the weaving instrument so called (mid-14c.) from being "shot" across the threads. Sense of "train that runs back and forth" is first recorded 1895, from image of the weaver's instrument's back-and-forth movement over the warp; extended to aircraft 1942, to spacecraft 1969. In some other languages, the weaving instrument takes its name from its resemblance to a boat (cf. Latin navicula, French navette, German weberschiff).

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1550s, "move rapidly to and fro," from shuttle (n.); sense of "transport via a shuttle service" is recorded from 1930. Related: Shuttled; shuttling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper