from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The joint connecting the arm with the torso.
  • noun The part of the human body between the neck and upper arm.
  • noun The joint of a vertebrate animal that connects the forelimb to the trunk.
  • noun The part of an animal near this joint.
  • noun The area of the back from one shoulder to the other.
  • noun A cut of meat including the joint of the foreleg and adjacent parts.
  • noun The portion of a garment that covers the shoulder.
  • noun An angled or sloping part, as.
  • noun The angle between the face and flank of a bastion in a fortification.
  • noun The area between the body and neck of a bottle or vase.
  • noun The area of an item or object that serves as an abutment or surrounds a projection, as.
  • noun The end surface of a board from which a tenon projects.
  • noun Printing The flat surface on the body of type that extends beyond the letter or character.
  • noun The edge or border running on either side of a roadway.
  • intransitive verb To carry or place (a burden, for example) on a shoulder or on the shoulders.
  • intransitive verb To take on; assume.
  • intransitive verb To push or apply force to with a shoulder.
  • intransitive verb To make (one's way) by shoving one's shoulders.
  • intransitive verb To push with a shoulder.
  • intransitive verb To make one's way by shoving 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 The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Figuratively, sustaining power; strength to support burdens: as, to take the work or the blame on one's own shoulders.
  • noun The shoulder-joint.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Specifically— The butting-ring on the axle of a vehicle.
  • noun The projection of a lamp-chimney just below the contraction or neck.
  • noun 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.
  • noun In printing, the projection at the top of the shank of a type beyond the face of the letter. See cut under type.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The upper part of the blade of a sword.
  • noun In a vase, jug, bottle, etc., the projection below the neck.
  • noun In a knife, the enlarged part between the tang and the blade.
  • noun In angling, a feather to the body of an artificial fly.
  • noun The back part of a sail.
  • noun A projecting edge or ridge; a bur.
  • noun In fortification, the angle of a bastion included between the face and the flank. Also called shoulder-angle. See cut under bastion.


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

[Middle English shulder, from Old English sculdor.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").


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