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A young man wearing a loosened paisley tie and holding a plastic party cup shrugging at the camera.
A man "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, 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" (low-high-low).[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 ¯\_()_/¯ .

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shrug | Define Shrug at". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  2. ^ EKMAN, Paul. Telling Lies, p.101
  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.