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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English *schagge, from Old English sceacga (hair), from Proto-Germanic *skaggiją (beard, stem), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kek-, *(s)keg- (to jump, move, hurry). Akin to Old Norse skegg, beard (compare Danish skæg, spelling before the writing reform of 1948: skjæg, Norwegian skjegg, Swedish skägg), from Old Norse skaga, to protrude.


shag (plural shags)

  1. Matted material; rough massed hair, fibres etc.
    • John Gay
      true Witney broadcloth, with its shag unshorn
  2. Coarse shredded tobacco.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia, Faber & Faber 1992 (Avignon Quintet), p. 535:
      He was rather unshaven as well and smelt strongly of shag.
  3. A type of rough carpet pile.
Derived terms[edit]


shag (third-person singular simple present shags, present participle shagging, simple past and past participle shagged)

  1. (transitive) To make hairy or shaggy; to roughen.
    • J. Barlow
      Shag the green zone that bounds the boreal skies.


shag (comparative more shag, superlative most shag)

  1. (obsolete) hairy; shaggy
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

Etymology 2[edit]

Wikipedia has an article on:


Phalacrocorax aristotelis, the European shag.

Perhaps a derivative of Etymology 1, above, with reference to the bird's shaggy crest.


shag (plural shags)

  1. Several species of sea birds in the family Phalacrocoracidae (cormorant family), especially the common shag or European shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, found on European and African coasts.
    • 1941, Ernestine Hill, My Love Must Wait, A&R Classics 2013, p. 7:
      He ran back and picked up a dead bird that had fallen. It was not a duck but a shag.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Origin unknown. Possibly from "Shagal", Hebrew word found at De. 28:30 meaning "rape" or "violate".


shag (third-person singular simple present shags, present participle shagging, simple past and past participle shagged)

  1. (intransitive) To shake, wiggle around.
  2. (transitive, vulgar slang) To have sexual intercourse with.
  3. (India, transitive, vulgar slang) To masturbate.
  4. To chase after; especially, to chase after and return (a ball) hit usually out of play
    • 1974, Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, edition paperback, Harper Torch, ISBN 9780060589462, published 1999, page 77:
      Chris is off somewhere in the darkness, but I'm not going to shag after him.
  5. To perform the dance called the shag.


shag (plural shags)

  1. A swing dance.
  2. (slang) An act of sexual intercourse.
    • 2007, Julie Andrews, "Roman Must Die", in The Leonard Variations: Clarion 2007 San Diego, ISBN 9787774574500, page 10:
      They were in the midst of an intense snog, his tongue down her throat as he tried to work out if he wanted another shag before she left for the night, when an odd noise sounded from behind the door of 2B.
    • 2010, Clara Darling, Hot City Nights, St. Martin's Press (2010), ISBN 9780312536954, page 107:
      “And feel free to come over anytime you'd like a drink and a shag. []
    • 2011, Josephine Myles, Barging In, Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (2011), ISBN 9781609285920, page 24:
      He could say yes, then just quietly leave the area without ever seeing the man again. He could even get a shag out of Charles first.
  3. (slang) A casual sexual partner.
    • 2003, Freya North, Pip, Harper (2003), ISBN 9780007462254, unnumbered page:
      'It turned out that it was me who was just a shag to him. He had a girlfriend I didn't know about. He presumed I was up for some no-strings action. And the thing is, I thought I was – in theory. But in practice, I realized that I wasn't.'
    • 2008, Bruce Cooke, Trace Elements, Eternal Press (2008), ISBN 9781897559369, page 56:
      "Was I just another shag to you, Trace? Someone to bed when the offer came?"
    • 2011, Wes Lee, "Saul", in The Sleepers Almanac, No. 7 (eds. Zoe Dattner & Louise Swinn), Sleepers Publishing (2011), ISBN 9781742702995, page 135:
      'Your favourite shag?' I ask her.
      'Martin Kershen.'
      'He was a sexy beast.'

Etymology 4[edit]

Blend of shower (bridal shower) and stag (bachelor party).


shag (plural shags)

  1. (Canada, Northwestern Ontario) A fundraising dance in honour of a couple engaged to be married.


  • “shag” in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004.





Borrowing from English


shag m (uncountable, diminutive shagje n or sjekkie n)

  1. shag (coarse shredded tobacco)