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shrug (one's) shoulders

1. Literally, to make a gesture by raising and dropping one's shoulders, often meaning that one does not know something or is indifferent to something. Don't just shrug your shoulders—I want an answer! I asked the kids if they wanted pizza for dinner and they just shrugged their shoulders. I thought they would be excited about it.
2. To feel or display indifference, indecision, or an inability to do something. Too many people simply shrug their shoulders when it comes to getting enough exercise. If they encounter something they can't resolve, management just shrugs their shoulders and ignores it.
See also: shoulder, shrug

shrug off

1. To dismiss, ignore, or minimize the importance of someone or something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "shrug" and "off." I've been warning the boss about the issue for weeks, but he just keeps shrugging me off. You have to learn to shrug off the negative opinions of others if you want to succeed in this industry.
2. To rid or free oneself from someone or something that one finds unpleasant, upsetting, or annoying. A noun or pronoun can be used between "shrug" and "off." My little brother has been pestering me all day, so I finally just shrugged him off and went to the gym. I've had a hard time shrugging off this cold.
See also: off, shrug

shrug something off (as something)

 and pass something off (as something)
to ignore something unpleasant or offensive as if it meant something else. She shrugged off the criticism as harmless. I passed off the remark as misinformed. Bill scolded me, but I just passed it off.
See also: off, shrug

shrug off

1. Minimize the importance of, as in That nasty review didn't bother him at all; he just shrugged it off. [Early 1900s]
2. Get rid of, as in She managed to shrug off her drowsiness and keep driving. [Mid-1900s]
3. Wriggle out of a garment, as in He shrugged off his coat. [First half of 1900s]
See also: off, shrug

shrug one's shoulders

Show indecision or indifference, as in When I asked her if she minded staying home, she just shrugged her shoulders. This redundant idiom- shrug means "to raise and contract the shoulders"-dates from about 1450.
See also: shoulder, shrug

shrug off

1. To dismiss something with a gesture of doubt, disdain, or indifference: She shrugged off her mother's advice. Rather than respond to their insults, he just shrugged them off and kept walking.
2. To minimize the importance of something: The coach shrugged off the defeat and talked about the team's improvement. The politician shrugged the allegations off, calling them absurd.
3. To get rid of something: I hope that I can shrug off this cold before the game next weekend. I began to feel sleepy, but I shrugged it off and kept driving.
4. To wriggle out of some clothing: He shrugged off his shirt and put it in the laundry basket. She shrugged her coat off and hung it in the closet.
See also: off, shrug
References in periodicals archive ?
Bonds, the cyclists, Vick -- the antiheroes of the sports section, my little corner of the newspaper -- have their defenders, many of whom shrug to the extent of noting that these aren't the only scofflaws.
The she rises, looks at me with a quizzical smile, and shrugs her shoulders, her hands held out in question.
Bhs matches satin camisole for pounds 25 with gold sequin shrug for pounds 25, black crochet scarf for pounds 19 and denim jeans for pounds 15
For the more conservative woman who doesn't dare to bare, shrugs are a trendy alternative to a jacket - while for really daring types, a bra worn under one will certainly get you lots of attention.
Manufacturers, spurred by the surprising summer success of the shrug, are now selling shrugs with matching tops to help solve this fashion dilemma.
Our facility is equipped with six neck machines and three shrug stations for the sequence of neck movements done by our athletes before the start of every upper body workout:
After a shrug, the beast trudged off with tail between legs.
I've asked to meet her but he just shrugs his shoulders and says she's refused.
While there is always the danger the celeb wearer can end up looking like a Christmas tree bauble, sparkly shrugs are still hugely popular.
He shrugs off talk of the Hall of Fame as he does mention of any of his other accomplishments.
They were a surprise hit last season and shrugs are back again for winter.
First made popular by leading American designer Randolph Duke, shrugs have now taken over the high street.
Sophomore guard Baron Davis doesn't shrug it off at all.