can you shrug your shoulders

Stephanagreg

Senior Member
FRANCE FRENCH
Hello,

Would you say that "He shrugged his shoulders" is a pleaonasm? And would you say "He shrugged" is definitely to be preferred?

Warmest regards
 
  • Moogey

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi Stephanagreg,

    Pleaonasm? I've never heard of such word and it's not in the WR dictionary. Did you make a typo?

    "He shrugged" is perfectly fine unless you want to emphasize the shoulders bit.

    -M
     

    Stephanagreg

    Senior Member
    FRANCE FRENCH

    cinnamon

    Member
    ITALIAN
    yes, you can say shrugged and shrugged the shoulders, but I prefer the second one. why? because the words seems imitate the movement, and it renders the spoken language more expressive.
     

    angeluomo

    Senior Member
    US English (German/French)
    Both are OK and frequently used. "He shrugged" is very concise and might even be used instead of "he said" in a dialogue to underscore the speaker's uncertainty. "He shrugged his shoulders" would never be used in this context. This usage would always be confined to describing how an individual moves his shoulders to denote uncertainty. Two examples:

    "Which train is he arriving on?" she asked.
    "Could be any one of three," he shrugged.

    "Which train is he arriving on?" she asked.
    He shrugged his shoulders. "Could be any one of three," he answered.
     

    cinnamon

    Member
    ITALIAN
    angeluomo said:
    Both are OK and frequently used. "He shrugged" is very concise and might even be used instead of "he said" in a dialogue to underscore the speaker's uncertainty. "He shrugged his shoulders" would never be used in this context. This usage would always be confined to describing how an individual moves his shoulders to denote uncertainty. Two examples:

    "Which train is he arriving on?" she asked.
    "Could be any one of three," he shrugged.

    "Which train is he arriving on?" she asked.
    He shrugged his shoulders. "Could be any one of three," he answered.
    so my intuition was right, I said shrugged his shoulders to express the movement and you confirm sustaining its use for the descriptions.
     

    Moogey

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I would also like to add, as angeluomo seemed to suggest, that "shrugged" as is is often used in English literature. Examples of such are the quotes in his post.

    Cheers,
    -M
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Stephanagreg said:
    It would seem that both Oxford (http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/pleonasm?view=uk) and
    Merriam Webster (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=pleonasm) have "pleonasm" ; but I'll think twice before using it from now on since it does not always seem to ring a bell. Moreover, Cambridge online does not have it.

    Thanks for the tip re. "shrugged". Would you say that "he shrugged his shoulders" is acceptable or that it is definitely redundant

    Many thanks
    Yes, I've noticed that the French prefer "pléonasme" and so use the English "pleonasm" which certainly exists, but in fact we usually talk of "tautology" in English.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Having looked up pleonasm, I can confirm that this isn't one.
    For centuries, English has understood both transitive and intransitive shrug. Angeluomo, Cinnamon, Moogey, I and the OED will allow you to use either:D
     
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