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A man wearing a tiara, a loosened paisley necktie, and a pair of glasses with a beverage shrugging at the camera.
A man shrugging

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]


The shoulder-raising action may be accompanied by rotating the palms upwards, pulling closed lips downwards, raising the eyebrows or tilting the head to one side.[2] A shrug is an emblem, meaning that it integrates the vocabulary of only certain cultures and may be used in place of words.[3] In many countries, such as the United States, Sweden and Morocco, a shrug represents hesitation or lack of knowledge; however, in other countries, such as Japan and China, shrugging is uncommon and is not used to show hesitation. People from the Philippines, Iran and Iraq may interpret a shrug as a somewhat impolite sign of confidence.[4]

Gallic shrug[edit]

The Gallic shrug, "generally a nuanced gesture with myriad meanings",[5] performed by sticking out your lower lip, raising your eyebrows and shoulders simultaneously,[6][7][8][9][10] and voicing a nonchalant Bof.[11]


The shrug gesture is a Unicode emoji included as U+1F937 🤷 SHRUG.[12] The shrug emoticon, made from Unicode characters, is also typed as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, where "ツ" is the character tsu from Japanese katakana. [13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shrug | Define Shrug at". Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  2. ^ Debras, Camille (29 June 2017). "The shrug: Forms and meanings of a compound enactment". Gesture. 16 (1): 1–34. doi:10.1075/gest.16.1.01deb. ISSN 1568-1475. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  3. ^ Ekman, Paul (2009). Telling Lies. W. W. Norton. p. 101. ISBN 9780393081749.
  4. ^ Jokinen, Kristiina; Allwood, Jens (2010). "Hesitation in intercultural communication: Some observations on interpreting shoulder shrugging" (PDF). Culture and Computing. Lecturer Notes in Computer Science. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  5. ^ Greenspan, Dorie (20 January 2017). "Long before the toast craze in the U.S., the French were making tartines". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  6. ^ Allen, Peter (4 January 2007). "To offend the French, fondle a slice of cheese". Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  7. ^ "French Facial Expressions". The Good Life France. 14 August 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  8. ^ Rhodes, Peter (October 13, 2021). "Peter Rhodes on a cheesy lesson, the Gallic shrug and waiting for the male of the species to improve". Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  9. ^ Nehring, Cristina. "Letter From Paris: A Gallic Shrug for DSK". Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  10. ^ "How the French Speak With Their Hands". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  11. ^ "The Language". Domaines & Terroirs. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  12. ^ "Shrug Emoji". Emojipedia. Retrieved 2016-01-17.
  13. ^ "Shrug Emoticon". Textpopo. Retrieved 2021-06-19.