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From Middle English schanke, from Old English sċeanca, scanca, from Proto-Germanic *skankô (compare West Frisian skonk, Low German Schanke, German Schenkel (shank, leg), Norwegian skank), from *skankaz (compare Old Norse skakkr (wry, crooked)), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)keng- (compare Middle Irish scingim (I spring), Ancient Greek σκάζω (skázō, to limp).


  • IPA(key): /ʃæŋk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æŋk


shank (plural shanks)

  1. The part of the leg between the knee and the ankle.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, As you like it:
      His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide / For his shrunk shank […] (II.7)
  2. Meat from that part of an animal.
  3. (ornithology, colloquial) A redshank or greenshank, various species of Old World wading birds in the genus Tringa having distinctly colored legs.
  4. A straight, narrow part of an object, such as a key or an anchor; shaft; stem.
  5. The handle of a pair of shears, connecting the ride to the neck.
  6. The center part of a fishhook between the eye and the hook, the 'hook' being the curved part that bends toward the point.
  7. A protruding part of an object, by which it is or can be attached.
  8. The metal part on a curb bit that falls below the mouthpiece, which length controls the severity of the leverage action of the bit, and to which the reins of the bridle are attached.
  9. (sports) A poorly played golf shot in which the ball is struck by the part of the club head that connects to the shaft.
    • 1953, Arnold Gingrich, The Esquire Treasury:
      To a good golfer a shank is disgracefuller than being dead drunk or in jail.
  10. (slang) An improvised stabbing weapon; a shiv.
  11. A loop forming an eye to a button.
  12. (architecture) The space between two channels of the Doric triglyph.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Gwilt to this entry?)
  13. (metalworking) A large ladle for molten metal, fitted with long bars for handling it.
  14. (printing, dated) The body of a type; between the shoulder and the foot.
  15. (shoemaking) The part of the sole beneath the instep connecting the broader front part with the heel.
  16. Flat-nosed pliers, used by opticians for nipping off the edges of pieces of glass to make them round.
  17. The end or remainder, particularly of a period of time.
  18. The main part or beginning of a period of time.
    the shank of the morning
    • 1945, Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie, page 92:
      AMANDA: Going now? You're joking! Why, it's only the shank of the evening, Mr. O’Connor!


(improvised stabbing weapon): shiv (slang)

Derived terms[edit]



shank (third-person singular simple present shanks, present participle shanking, simple past and past participle shanked)

  1. (archaic, Ulster) To travel on foot.
  2. (slang) To stab, especially with an improvised blade.
  3. (slang) To remove another's trousers, especially in jest; to depants.
  4. (transitive, golf) To misstrike the ball with the part of the club head that connects to the shaft.
  5. (transitive, chiefly tennis, soccer) To hit or kick the ball in an unintended direction.
    • 2011 September 28, Tom Rostance, “Arsenal 2 - 1 Olympiakos”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Marouane Chamakh then spurned a great chance to kill the game off when he ran onto Andrey Arshavin's lofted through ball but shanked his shot horribly across the face of goal.
  6. (intransitive) To fall off, as a leaf, flower, or capsule, on account of disease affecting the supporting footstalk; usually followed by off.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Darwin to this entry?)


(to stab with an improvised weapon): shiv (slang)
(to remove another's pants): depants (slang)


shank (comparative shanker, superlative shankest)

  1. (slang) Bad.

See also[edit]