airy shrug of the shoulders

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Senior Member
Mandarin / the Shanghai Dialect

Miss Waterford certainly felt that she could not do her subject justice on the curb of Jermyn Street, and so, like an artist, flung the bare fact at me and declared that she knew no details. I could not do her the injustice of supposing that so trifling a circumstance would have prevented her from giving them, but she was obstinate.

"I tell you I know nothing," she said, in reply to my agitated questions, and then, with an airy shrug of the shoulders: "I believe that a young person in a city tea-shop has left her situation."

From W. Somerset Maugham: The Moon and Sixpence (1919)

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham: Chapter 8 (continued) - The Literature Page

How can I interpret “airy” here? Even after I checked dictionaries, I find the meaning hard to grasp. Does “airy” mean Miss Waterford excited the writer’s attention, but she didn’t care to answer the writer’s question?



Of a person or a person's character, judgement, conduct, etc.: superficial, shallow. In later use: nonchalant, offhand; dismissive.
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