Definition of shirk in English:

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Pronunciation: /ʃəːk/


[with object]
1Avoid or neglect (a duty or responsibility): I do not shirk any responsibility in this matter [no object]: she is neither shirking nor lying
More example sentences
  • She suffers, true; she complains, also true; but she has not shirked her duty, nor shied away from pain.
  • Insightful without being pedantic, learned but not overbearing, the book is full of humorous anecdotes while never shirking the factual responsibility of the historian.
  • ‘It is a matter of law and not of fact,’ she said, adding that in her opinion, to decline to hear the matter would be shirking her responsibility as a judge.
evade, dodge, avoid, get out of, sidestep, shuffle off, run away from, shrink from, shun, slide out of, play truant from, skip, miss, not attend;
neglect, let slide, not attend to, pay little/no attention to, be remiss about, be lax about, leave undone, lose sight of, skimp on
informal duck, duck out of, cop out of
British informal skive off, funk
North American informal cut
Australian/New Zealand informal duck-shove
evade one's duty, be remiss, be negligent, skulk, play truant, malinger
British informal skive (off), wag, dodge the column, swing the lead, scrimshank, slack
North American informal goof off, goldbrick, play hookey
Australian/New Zealand informal bludge, play the wag
1.1 [no object, usually with negative] (shirk from) Be unwilling to do (something difficult): we will not shirk from closing a school if the evidence should justify it


A person who shirks.
Example sentences
  • His status as a shirk would normally render him somewhat of a pariah.
  • The boy was a shirk, anyway, so he wouldn't really be missed.



Pronunciation: /ˈʃəːkə/
Example sentences
  • He don't have time for those what don't care to work, and he'd sooner drown you than put up with idlers or shirkers.
  • And if the socialist shirkers riot, shoot them!
  • To stand for the shirkers, stand strong in their place.
dodger, truant, (habitual) absentee, malingerer, layabout, loafer, idler
informal slacker, cyberslacker
British informal skiver, wag, scrimshanker
Australian/New Zealand informal duck-shover
archaic shirk


Mid 17th century (in the sense 'practise fraud or trickery'): from obsolete shirk 'sponger', perhaps from German Schurke 'scoundrel'.

  • shark from late 16th century:

    We do not know where the name for the fish comes from, but it is thought that the shark as in loan shark may be from German Schurke ‘worthless rogue’, influenced by the zoological term. Shirk (mid 17th century) originally meaning a scrounger, may be from the same German word. The sense ‘avoid work’ dates from the late 18th century.

Words that rhyme with shirk

berk, berserk, Burke, cirque, dirk, Dunkirk, erk, irk, kirk, lurk, mirk, murk, outwork, perk, quirk, smirk, stirk, Turk, work

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: shirk

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