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A young man, wearing a shirt with several buttons undone, a loosened paisley tie, and plastic silver tiara with a blue sticker that reads "Scamper," holding a plastic party cup, shrugging at the camera.
A shrug with a tiara, a glass of water, a dress shirt, and a loose necktie.

A shrug is a gesture performed by lifting both shoulders and hands up, and is a representation of an individual either not knowing an answer to a question, or not caring about something.[1] A shrug is an emblem, meaning that it integrates the vocabulary of only certain cultures and may be used in place of words.[2] It can also be used when simply ignoring a question. It may be accentuated with raised eyebrows, a turned-down mouth or an exaggerated frown, and can be accompanied by raised palms. It is very common in Western culture—rather than saying "I don't know", one may simply perform a shrug. In the English-speaking world it may be accompanied by a three-syllable grunt or hummed mumble mimicking the intonation of "I dunno".[citation needed]

Shoulder shrugs are among the symptomatic tics of Tourette syndrome.[3]


The shrug gesture is a Unicode emoji included as U+1F937 🤷 SHRUG.[4] The shrug emoticon, made out from Unicode characters, is also typed as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shrug | Define Shrug at". Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  2. ^ EKMAN, Paul. Telling Lies, p.101
  3. ^ "Anxiety/panic disorder most frequent disabling comorbid disorder in Tourette syndrome patients, study finds". 2010-06-19. 
  4. ^ "Shrug Emoji". Emojipedia. Retrieved 2016-01-17.