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A young man wearing a loosened paisley tie and holding a plastic party cup shrugging at the camera.
A man wearing a tiara, a tie, and a pair of glasses with a beverage "shrugs" at the camera.

A shrug is a gesture performed by raising both shoulders, and is a representation of an individual either being indifferent about something or not knowing an answer to a question.[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, an exaggerated frown, a tilted head, and raised palms. It is very common in Western culture—rather than saying "I don't know", one may simply perform a shrug.[3] In the English-speaking world it may be accompanied by a three-syllable grunt or hummed mumble mimicking the intonation of "I don't know".[citation needed]

Shoulder shrugs are among the symptomatic tics of Tourette syndrome.[4]


The shrug gesture is a Unicode emoji included as U+1F937 🤷 SHRUG.[5] The shrug emoticon, made from Unicode characters, is also typed as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, where "ツ" is the character tsu from Japanese katakana. [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shrug | Define Shrug at". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  2. ^ Ekman, Paul (2009). Telling Lies. W. W. Norton. p. 101. ISBN 9780393081749.
  3. ^ "Shrug Emoji".
  4. ^ "Anxiety/panic disorder most frequent disabling comorbid disorder in Tourette syndrome patients, study finds". 2010-06-19. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Shrug Emoji". Emojipedia. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  6. ^ "Shrug Emoticon". Textpopo. Retrieved 2021-06-19.