Meaning of SHOULDER in English


I. ˈshōldə(r) noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English shulder, sholder, from Old English sculdor; akin to Old Frisian skuldere shoulder, Middle Low German schulder, Middle Dutch schouder, Old High German scultra, sculterra shoulder, Old English sciell shell — more at shell


a. : the laterally projecting part of the human body on each side of the base of the neck that is formed of the bones and joints by which the arm is connected with the trunk and the muscles covering them

b. : the corresponding but usually less projecting region of the body of a lower vertebrate : the structures connecting the forelimb with the trunk

c. : the bend of the wing of a bird — not used technically; see goose illustration


a. : the two shoulders and the upper part of the back forming together the part of the human frame on which it is most easy to carry a heavy burden — usually used in plural

his shoulders bowed with age

b. shoulders plural : capacity for bearing a task or blame : the seat of responsibility

the task of conservation farming rested squarely on the shoulders of the farmer — Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

placed the guilt on the shoulders of the planters — American Guide Series: Florida


a. : the upper joint of the foreleg and adjacent parts of an animal dressed for market including more or less of the neck and chest

a shoulder of mutton

— see lamb illustration

b. : the part of a leather hide between the butt and the cheeks and head — see hide illustration

4. : the part of a garment at the wearer's shoulder

5. : a part suggesting a human shoulder in shape, position, or function: as

a. : an angle or curve in the outline of an object (as between the body and the neck of a bottle) and often also the parts adjacent to it

overloading causes … excessive strain of the fabric of the sidewalls and shoulders of the tire — L.W.Mason

a bolt threaded up to the shoulder

the northwest shoulder of Europe

b. : an abrupt projection that forms an abutment on an object or limits motion (as the projection around a tenon, the ring next to the wheel on an axle)

c. : an abutting projection between a blade and a tang (as of a knife or chisel)

d. : the flat top of the body of a piece of printing type from which the bevel rises to join the face ; sometimes : the part of this area at the belly and back ends — compare side bearing ; see type illustration


(1) : the part of a hill or mountain near the top : the slope below the summit

a road along the shoulder of the mountain

(2) : a lateral protrusion or extension of a hill or mountain

from valley to intermediate shoulders and crags, to a secondary and thence to the highest point — W.O.Douglas


(1) : the part of a railroad ballast between the end of the tie and the edge of the ballast slope

(2) : the part of the railroad subgrade between the edge of the ballast and the ditch in cuts or between the edge of the ballast and the top of a slope on an embankment

(3) : either edge of a roadway ; specifically : the part of a roadway outside of the traveled way on which vehicles may be parked in an emergency


(1) : a rough edge or ridge left beside a line or dot on a photoengraved plate

(2) : a beveled edge around a printing plate by which the plate can be fastened to a base

h. : ridge 6

i. : the section of a finger ring on either side of the central ornament or bezel

j. : the part of a flat key between the bow and the blade

6. : half sole

- from the shoulder

- shoulder to shoulder

II. verb

( shouldered ; shouldered ; shouldering -d(ə)riŋ ; shoulders )

Etymology: Middle English shulderen, sholderen, from shulder, sholder, n.

transitive verb

1. : to push or thrust with or as if with the shoulder : jostle

shoulders his way through the crowd

in China … the Dutch shouldered other European competitors aside — Stringfellow Barr


a. : to provide with a shoulder : form a shoulder on (as a casting)

b. : to fill or pad out as a shoulder (as ballast on the sides of a railraod track or mortar under the edge of a roofing slate)


a. : to place or bear on the shoulder

shoulder a basket

specifically : to place (as a rifle) aslant on the shoulder

b. : to assume the burden or responsibility of

shouldering the burden of preparing these two books for publication — Geographical Journal

called to shoulder the great responsibilities of high office — Clement Attlee

shoulder the blame

shoulder the costs of the war

4. : to stand close beside

old frame buildings shoulder modern masonry structures in the business center — American Guide Series: Oregon

intransitive verb

1. : to push with or as if with the shoulders : make one's way (as through a crowd) in an aggressive manner

the mules shoulder up to the trough — Christopher Rand

the Scandinavians … who are trying to shoulder into their sacred, ancient Yankee caste — Sinclair Lewis

2. : to rise or protrude in a manner suggesting a shoulder

the ridge that shouldered to the sky — J.H.Stuart

a particularly dilapidated building that shouldered alarmingly out to one side — W.O.Mitchell

3. : to move side by side

a yoke of the great sulky white bullocks … came shouldering along together — Rudyard Kipling

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.