from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The joint connecting the arm with the torso.
  • n. The part of the human body between the neck and upper arm.
  • n. The joint of a vertebrate animal that connects the forelimb to the trunk.
  • n. The part of an animal near this joint.
  • n. The part of a bird's wing between the wrist and the trunk.
  • n. The area of the back from one shoulder to the other. Often used in the plural.
  • n. A cut of meat including the joint of the foreleg and adjacent parts.
  • n. The portion of a garment that covers the shoulder.
  • n. An angled or sloping part, as:
  • n. The angle between the face and flank of a bastion in a fortification.
  • n. The area between the body and neck of a bottle or vase.
  • n. The area of an item or object that serves as an abutment or surrounds a projection, as:
  • n. The end surface of a board from which a tenon projects.
  • n. Printing The flat surface on the body of type that extends beyond the letter or character.
  • n. The edge or border running on either side of a roadway.
  • transitive v. To carry or place (a burden, for example) on the shoulders.
  • transitive v. To take on; assume: shouldered the blame for his friends.
  • transitive v. To push or apply force to, with or as if with the shoulder.
  • transitive v. To make (one's way) by or as if by shoving obstacles with one's shoulders.
  • intransitive v. To push with the shoulders.
  • intransitive v. To make one's way by or as if by shoving obstacles with one's shoulders.
  • idiom put (one's) shoulder to the wheel To apply oneself vigorously; make a concentrated effort.
  • idiom shoulder to shoulder In close proximity; side by side.
  • idiom shoulder to shoulder In close cooperation.
  • idiom straight from the shoulder Delivered directly from the shoulder. Used of a punch.
  • idiom straight from the shoulder Honestly; candidly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The joint between the arm and the torso, sometimes including the surrounding area.
  • n. A part of a road where drivers may stop in an emergency; a hard shoulder.
  • n. A cut of meat comprised of the upper joint of the foreleg and the surrounding muscle.
  • n. The portion of a garment where the shoulder is clothed.
  • n. The portion of a hill or mountain just below the peak.
  • n. The lateral protrusion of a hill or mountain.
  • n. The flat portion of type that is below the bevelled portion that joins up with the face.
  • n. The rounded portion of stringed instrument where the neck joins the body.
  • n. The rounded portion of a bottle where the neck meets the body.
  • v. To push (a person or thing) using one's shoulder.
  • v. To carry (something) on one's shoulders.
  • v. To accept responsibility for.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See under Pectoral, and Pelvic.
  • n. The joint, or the region of the joint, by which the fore limb is connected with the body or with the shoulder girdle; the projection formed by the bones and muscles about that joint.
  • n. The flesh and muscles connected with the shoulder joint; the upper part of the back; that part of the human frame on which it is most easy to carry a heavy burden; -- often used in the plural.
  • n. Fig.: That which supports or sustains; support.
  • n. That which resembles a human shoulder, as any protuberance or projection from the body of a thing.
  • n. The upper joint of the fore leg and adjacent parts of an animal, dressed for market.
  • n. The angle of a bastion included between the face and flank. See Illust. of Bastion.
  • n. An abrupt projection which forms an abutment on an object, or limits motion, etc., as the projection around a tenon at the end of a piece of timber, the part of the top of a type which projects beyond the base of the raised character, etc.
  • intransitive v. To push with the shoulder; to make one's way, as through a crowd, by using the shoulders; to move swaying the shoulders from side to side.
  • transitive v. To push or thrust with the shoulder; to push with violence; to jostle.
  • transitive v. To take upon the shoulder or shoulders; ; hence, to assume the burden or responsibility of

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To push or thrust with the shoulder energetically or with violence.
  • To take upon the shoulder or shoulders: as, to shoulder a basket; specifically (military), to carry vertically or nearly so, as a musket in one hand and resting against the arm and the hollow of the shoulder, the exact position varying in different countries and at different times.
  • To form a shoulder or abutment on, by cutting or casting, as in a shaft or a beam.
  • To push forward, as with the shoulder foremost; force one's way by or as if by using the shoulder, as through a crowd.
  • n. A part of the body at the side and back of the bottom of the neck, and at the side and top of the chest; collectively, the parts about the scapula or blade-bone; the scapular region, including both bony and soft parts; especially, in man, the lateral prominence of these parts, where the upper arm-bone is articulated, having as its bony basis the united ends of the collar-bone and the blade-bone, overlaid by the mass of the deltoid muscle. See also cut under shoulder-blade.
  • n. Figuratively, sustaining power; strength to support burdens: as, to take the work or the blame on one's own shoulders.
  • n. The shoulder-joint.
  • n. The parts of an animal corresponding to the shoulder of man, including some other parts, and sometimes the whole, fore quarter of an animal: thus, a shoulder of mutton includes parts of the neck, chest, and foreleg.
  • n. In ornithology, the carpal joint, or wrist-joint, of a bird's wing; the bend of the wing, which, when the wing is folded, fits against the shoulder proper, and appears in the place of this.
  • n. Some part projecting like a shoulder; specifically, in anatomy, the tuberculum of a rib, separated from the head by the neck, and usually articulating with the transverse process of a vertebra. See tuberculum, and cut under rib.
  • n. A prominent or projecting part below the top; a rounded projection: as, the shoulder of a hill: especially, a projection on an object to oppose or limit motion or form an abutment; a horizontal or rectangular projection from the body of a thing.
  • n. Specifically— The butting-ring on the axle of a vehicle.
  • n. The projection of a lamp-chimney just below the contraction or neck.
  • n. In carpentry, the finished end of a tenoned rail or mullion; the part from which the tenon projects, and which fits close against the piece in which the mortise is cut. See cut under mortise.
  • n. In printing, the projection at the top of the shank of a type beyond the face of the letter. See cut under type.
  • n. In archery, the broadest part of a barbed arrow-head; the width across the barbs, or from the shaft to the extremity of one of the barbs.
  • n. The upper part of the blade of a sword.
  • n. In a vase, jug, bottle, etc., the projection below the neck.
  • n. In a knife, the enlarged part between the tang and the blade.
  • n. In angling, a feather to the body of an artificial fly.
  • n. The back part of a sail.
  • n. A projecting edge or ridge; a bur.
  • n. In fortification, the angle of a bastion included between the face and the flank. Also called shoulder-angle. See cut under bastion.
  • n. In the leather-trade, a name given to tanned or curried hides and kips.
  • n. In entomology:
  • n. One of the humeri or front upper corners of an insect's thorax: but in Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Orthoptera the term generally denotes the upper front angles of the wing-covers.
  • n. A shoulder-moth.
  • n. In horticulture, the squared or expanded base of a bunch of grapes, usually produced by an extra branch in the cluster.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a ball-and-socket joint between the head of the humerus and a cavity of the scapula
  • v. carry a burden, either real or metaphoric
  • v. lift onto one's shoulders
  • n. a narrow edge of land (usually unpaved) along the side of a road
  • n. the part of a garment that covers or fits over the shoulder
  • n. a cut of meat including the upper joint of the foreleg
  • n. the part of the body between the neck and the upper arm
  • v. push with the shoulders


Middle English shulder, from Old English sculdor.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English sholder, shulder, schulder, from Old English sculdor, sculdra ("shoulder"), from West Germanic *skuldra (“shoulder”), of uncertain origin. Perhaps related to Proto-Germanic *skelduz (“shield”), see shield. Cognate with Old Frisian skuldere ("shoulder"), Middle Low German scholder ("shoulder"), Dutch schouder ("shoulder"), German Schulter ("shoulder"). (Wiktionary)


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