a. The joint connecting the arm with the torso.
b. The part of the human body between the neck and upper arm.
a. The joint of a vertebrate animal that connects the forelimb to the trunk.
b. The part of an animal near this joint.
3. often shoulders The area of the back from one shoulder to the other.
4. A cut of meat including the joint of the foreleg and adjacent parts.
5. The portion of a garment that covers the shoulder.
6. An angled or sloping part, as:
a. The angle between the face and flank of a bastion in a fortification.
b. The area between the body and neck of a bottle or vase.
7. The area of an item or object that serves as an abutment or surrounds a projection, as:
a. The end surface of a board from which a tenon projects.
b. Printing The flat surface on the body of type that extends beyond the letter or character.
8. The edge or border running on either side of a roadway.
v. shoul·dered, shoul·der·ing, shoul·ders
1. To carry or place (a burden, for example) on a shoulder or on the shoulders.
2. To take on; assume: shouldered the blame for his friends.
3. To push or apply force to with a shoulder: shouldered the dresser against the wall.
4. To make (one's way) by shoving one's shoulders.
1. To push with a shoulder.
2. To make one's way by shoving one's shoulders.
put (one's) shoulder to the wheel
To apply oneself vigorously; make a concentrated effort.
shoulder to shoulder
1. In close proximity; side by side.
2. In close cooperation.
straight from the shoulder
1. Delivered directly from the shoulder. Used of a punch.
2. Honestly; candidly.
[Middle English shulder, from Old English sculdor.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.