Shrug in different languages

Shrug in Different Languages

Discover 'Shrug' in 134 Languages: Dive into Translations, Hear Pronunciations, and Uncover Cultural Insights.

Updated on March 6, 2024

The word 'shrug' is a simple yet powerful gesture that transcends language barriers. A shrug is a physical expression of indifference, uncertainty, or ignorance, often accompanied by raised shoulders and upturned palms. Its significance lies in its ability to convey a range of emotions through a single, universal motion.

Shrugging has cultural importance across the globe, appearing in various forms of art, literature, and media. From ancient Greek statues to modern emojis, the shrug remains a timeless symbol of human expression. Its simplicity and versatility have made it a staple in non-verbal communication.

Understanding the translation of 'shrug' in different languages can enrich your cultural experiences and enhance your ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds. For instance, the French say 'je ne sais pas' (I don't know), while the Spanish use 'no sé' (I don't know) to convey the same sentiment through words.

Explore the list below to discover how to shrug in various languages, and gain a new perspective on this fascinating and universal gesture.


Shrug in Sub-Saharan African Languages

Afrikaanstrek sy skouers op
The idiom "om sy skouers op te trek" ("to shrug one's shoulders") is also a reference to the act of pulling a cloak over one's shoulders to protect from the elements, dating back to the Middle Ages.
The Amharic word "ትከሻ" can also mean "to shake off" or "to dismiss with a gesture".
In Hausa, the word “shrug” refers to a gesture of indifference or uncertainty and can also be used to express contempt or mockery.
Igbomaa mmaji
The etymology of 'maa mmaji' in Igbo is 'to pour water', with 'mmaji' being water and 'maa' meaning to pour.
The Malagasy word "mampiaka-tsoroka" translates to "shrug" in English and is derived from the root word "tsoroka", meaning "shoulder". It implies raising and lowering the shoulders in a dismissive or indifferent manner.
Nyanja (Chichewa)kunyamula
The word is derived from the Chewa verb 'kunyamuka' meaning 'to remove or take away'
In Shona, "shrug" also means "the remnants of something, such as burnt food."
In Somali, 'garbaha' can also mean 'to ignore' or 'to despise'.
The word "nyolla" also means "to fold up" or "to gather" in Sesotho.
In Swahili, "shrug" can also refer to something done without any enthusiasm or with a lack of motivation.
Xhosandinyuse amagxa
The Xhosa word "ndinyuse amagxa" literally means "throw out the shoulder blades".
Yorubafa fifọ
Fa fifọ is also used as a verb to describe the movement of the shoulders or the whole body when one is not sure or doesn't care about something.
Ukuhlikihla is an onomatopoeic word that imitates the sound of a person's shoulders rising and falling as they shrug.
Bambaraka a kunkolo wuli
Ewetsɔ abɔta ƒu gbe
Lingalakotombola mapeka
Lugandaokusika ebibegabega
Sepedigo šišinya magetla
Twi (Akan)fa wo nsa twitwiw wo nsa

Shrug in North African & Middle Eastern Languages

Arabicهز كتفيه
In Arabic, the word "هز كتفيه" literally translates to "shake his shoulders", which is the physical gesture commonly associated with shrugging.
Hebrewלמשוך בכתף
The Pashto word "شور" also refers to a type of traditional Afghan cloak often worn by men.
Arabicهز كتفيه
In Arabic, the word "هز كتفيه" literally translates to "shake his shoulders", which is the physical gesture commonly associated with shrugging.

Shrug in Western European Languages

Albanianngre supet
The Albanian word "ngre supet", meaning "shrug", is derived from the French phrase "hausser les épaules", which has the same meaning.
The Basque verb "altxatu" also means "to lift up," from the Latin "altare," "to lift up."
Catalanencongir-se d’espatlles
The phrase "encongir-se d’espatlles" literally translates to "shrink shoulders" but figuratively means to show indifference or ignorance.
The Croatian word "slijeganje" also means "subsidence" or "sinking".
Skuldertræk literally means 'shoulder pull' in Danish
Schouderophalend, meaning "shrug", also means "indifferent" in Dutch.
In addition to its primary meaning, "shrug" can also mean "to draw one's shoulders together in an upward motion to express indifference or uncertainty."
Frenchhausser les épaules
"Hausser les épaules" can also mean "to disdain", "to look down on" or "to belittle".
The Frisian word 'skodholle' is etymologically related to 'shoulder' or 'to shake'. Its alternate meaning is 'a bundle of straw used as a cushion'.
Galicianencollerse de ombreiros
The Galician phrase "encollerse de ombreiros" originated from the Latin verb "collum sternere," meaning to bow or lower one's neck, conveying submission or fear.
Although the verb „zucken“ is often translated as „to shrug“, it actually means „to twitch“.
Icelandicyppta öxlum
The Icelandic term "yppta öxlum" originates from the Old Norse phrase "upp yppa öxlum," meaning "to lift up the shoulders."
In Irish, "shrug" is an older spelling of "sruth," meaning "stream".
Italianalzare le spalle
The expression "alzare le spalle" in Italian also means to "give up" or "to say I don't know".
The word "réckelen" is cognate with the Dutch "rekken" and the German "recken", all of which mean "to stretch".
"Iċċekken" likely derives from the Arabic "تشكين", meaning "doubt", implying an inward shrug that expresses doubt or uncertainty.
Norwegiantrekke på skuldrene
The literal translation of the Norwegian idiom "å trekke på skuldrene" is "to pull on shoulders", which refers to the physical gesture of shrugging.
Portuguese (Portugal, Brazil)dar de ombros
In Portuguese, "dar de ombros" can also mean "to ignore" or "to not care about something"
Scots Gaelicshrug
In Scots Gaelic, the word "sgrug" means both "shrug" and "shoulder".
Spanishencogimiento de hombros
In Spain, the verb encogerse de hombros (to shrug) is often used figuratively to mean 'to resign oneself' to something undesirable.
Swedishrycka på axlarna
"Rycka på axlarna" translates to "shrug" in English and can also mean to "dodge" or "evade".
In Welsh, "gwgu" also means "cuckoo".

Shrug in Eastern European Languages

Belarusianпаціснуць плячыма
The Russian equivalent is пожать плечами, which can also idiomatically mean “to agree with resignation”.
Bosnianslegnuti ramenima
The verb "slegnuti ramenima" in Bosnian, meaning "to shrug", also has a figurative meaning of "to show indifference or ignorance".
Bulgarianсви рамене
The Bulgarian word "сви рамене" (shrug) originates from the verb "свивам" (to coil, roll up) and refers to the movement of shrugging, where the shoulders are rolled up towards the head.
Czechpokrčit rameny
The Czech word "pokrčit rameny" also means "to ignore" or "to not care".
Estoniankehitama õlgu
In Estonian, "kehitama õlgu" literally means "to hoist one's shoulders", with "õlg" meaning "shoulder".
Finnishkohauttaa olkapäitään
Kohauttaa olkapäitään derives from the word "koha" meaning "shoulder" and literally translates to "to tremble with the shoulders."
The word 'vállvonás' in Hungarian can also refer to an act of feigned carelessness or ignorance, as in 'Csak vállvonással hárította el kérdéseimet.' (He just shrugged off my questions.)
Latvianparaustīt plecus
The Latvian word for "shrug" is "paraustīt plecus," which literally means "to pull one's shoulders."
Lithuaniangūžtelėk pečiais
The Lithuanian verb 'gūžtelėti pečiais' (to shrug) is derived from the noun 'pečiai', meaning 'shoulders', and the reflexive suffix '-si'.
Macedonianкревање раменици
The word "кревање раменици" in Macedonian can also refer to a gesture of uncertainty or indifference, similar to the English "shrug".
Polishwzruszać ramionami
"Wzruszać ramionami" in Polish literally means "to move one's shoulders up and down".
Romanianridicare din umeri
The Romanian verb 'ridica din umeri', meaning 'to shrug', is also used figuratively to mean 'to be indifferent' or 'not to care'.
Russianпожимать плечами
The Russian verb "пожимать плечами" literally means "to shake shoulders".
Serbianслегнути раменима
The Serbian word "слегнути раменима" can also mean "to express indifference or uncertainty."
Pokrčiť in Slovak can also mean "to wrinkle" or "to crumple".
"Skomigati" is also a word for "to shrug" in Serbo-Croatian and it comes from the Proto-Slavic verb *skomati "to move, shake".
Ukrainianзнизати плечима
In Ukrainian, the phrase "знизати плечима" also means "to give up" or "to surrender".

Shrug in South Asian Languages

The word "শ্রাগ" ('shrug') comes from the English word "shrug", meaning an inclination of the shoulders.
The Gujarati word "ખેંચો" also means to pull or stretch, like pulling on a rope or stretching a muscle.
Hindiकंधे उचकाने की क्रिया
The word "shrug" comes from the Middle English word "shruggen," which means "to draw up the shoulders."
Kannada word "ಶ್ರಗ್" ("shrug") is derived from English word "shrug" meaning to lift shoulders as a gesture of indifference or uncertainty.
The word
The Marathi word "श्रग" is derived from the Sanskrit word "श्रग" (śrug), which means "to move the shoulders up or down."
The word "shrug" is originally from Old English word "scrūgian" meaning to shrink.
Sinhala (Sinhalese)උරහිස් සෙලවීම
In Tamil, the word "shrug" can also refer to a "sign of ignorance" or "a dismissive gesture."
The word "shrug" in Telugu, "అంటే", can also mean "to shake the shoulders to express indifference or uncertainty."
The word "shrug" in Urdu can also mean "to shake one's head" or "to express doubt or indifference."

Shrug in East Asian Languages

Chinese (Simplified)耸耸肩
The Chinese character 耸 (sǒng) can also mean "to rise" or "to tower", suggesting the idea of elevating one's shoulders in a shrug.
Chinese (Traditional)聳聳肩
聳聳肩 also means "to take lightly" or "to ignore" in Chinese.
In Japanese, 肩をすくめる (katasukumeru) literally means "to shrink one's shoulders."
Korean어깨를 으쓱하다
어깨를 으쓱하다 means to raise or lift one's shoulders and spread one's elbows, implying indifference or uncertainty.
Mongolianмөрөө хавч
The term "мөрөө хавч" is derived from the Mongolian word "мөр" (shoulder) and the verb "хавч" (to shake), referring to the movement of shaking one's shoulders to express confusion or indifference.
Myanmar (Burmese)ခုန်
The verb ခုန် (khun) can also mean "lean" or "push".

Shrug in South East Asian Languages

Indonesianmengangkat bahu
The Indonesian word "mengangkat bahu" not only means "to shrug", but also "to take responsibility" or "to raise to a higher position".
Nggrundel comes from 'nggronjel' (wrinkled), referring to the face that shows resistance and unwillingness when shrugging.
In Khmer, "shrug" can also mean "to shake one's shoulders to express indifference or uncertainty."
Malaymengangkat bahu
The Malay phrase "mengangkat bahu" can also mean "to ignore" or "to not care".
The word "ยัก" can also mean "to avoid" or "to evade" in Thai.
Vietnamesenhún vai
"Nhún vai" comes from the verb "nhún" which means "to bob" or "to shake", and the noun "vai" which means "shoulder".
Filipino (Tagalog)kibit-balikat

Shrug in Central Asian Languages

Azerbaijaniçiyinlərini çəkmək
The word "çiyinlərini çəkmək" has the literal meaning of "pulling one's shoulders" and is also used as an idiom to convey the action of shrugging one's shoulders.
Kazakhиық тіреу
The Kazakh word "иық тіреу" can also refer to the act of supporting or assisting someone, particularly in a difficult situation.
The Kyrgyz word "куушуруу" (shrug) also means "to shake off" or "to get rid of".
Tajikкитф дарҳам кашидан
Uzbekyelka qisish
The word "yelka qisish" in Uzbek is derived from the word "yelka", meaning "shoulder", and the verb "qisish", meaning "to move", indicating the act of moving one's shoulders to express indifference or uncertainty.

Shrug in Pacific Languages

The Hawaiian word ʻūhā can also be used to indicate agreement, disbelief or acceptance of a suggestion.
Kopikopiko also means 'to shake the shoulders or body; to flap the wings', and 'to shake from cold or fear'.
Faamimigi may also be a synonym of 'faato' or 'faafefe', which mean 'to nod' and 'to wag one's tail' respectively.
Tagalog (Filipino)nagkibit balikat
"Nagkibit balikat" may refer to either shrugging shoulders or carrying someone on one's back, like a baby carried in a blanket.

Shrug in American Indigenous Languages

Aymaraukatsti amparanakap ch’uqt’aña

Shrug in International Languages

Ŝultrolevi is derived from the Yiddish word “shultre” meaning “shoulder” and the Latin word “levare” meaning “to lift”.
Latin "excutere," meaning "to shake off," is the root of modern English "shrug."

Shrug in Others Languages

Greekσήκωμα των ώμων
The Greek word “σήκωμα των ώμων” (“shrug”) is derived from the verb “σηκώνω” (“I raise, I lift”), but it can also be used as a synonym for the word “άγνοια” (“ignorance”) or as an expression of uncertainty or indifference.
In Hmong, "shrug" can also refer to "a gesture of indifference or uncertainty" or "to throw something off one's shoulders".
The word "şerjêkirin" in Kurdish is derived from the Persian word "sharj" meaning "move" or "shake".
Turkishomuz silkme
In Turkish slang, "omuz silkme" also means "to be indifferent or apathetic".
Xhosandinyuse amagxa
The Xhosa word "ndinyuse amagxa" literally means "throw out the shoulder blades".
The Yiddish word "שראַג" (shrag) comes from the German word "Schragen", meaning a wooden frame that supports a heavy object
Ukuhlikihla is an onomatopoeic word that imitates the sound of a person's shoulders rising and falling as they shrug.
Aymaraukatsti amparanakap ch’uqt’aña
Bhojpuriकंधा झटकत बानी
Dhivehiކޮނޑު އަރުވާލާށެވެ
Dogriकंधें झटकना
Filipino (Tagalog)kibit-balikat
Krioshrug fɔ yu shrug
Kurdish (Sorani)شانی هەڵکێشە
Maithiliकान्ह झटकब
Meiteilon (Manipuri)ꯁ꯭ꯔꯨꯒ ꯇꯧꯕꯥ꯫
Mizoa lu a thing nghal ringawt
Oromoharka isaa ol qabadhu
Odia (Oriya)shrug
Quechuahombrokunata kuyuchiy
Sanskritस्कन्धं संकुचयति
Tigrinyaመንኵብ ሸጥ ኣቢልካ
Tsongaku rhurhumela

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