shank

Definitions

Agriculture

  • noun the lower part of a horse’s leg between the knee and the foot

Cars & Driving

Construction

  • The main body of a nail, screw, bolt, or similar fastener extending between the head and the point.
  • The usually metal part of a drill or other tool that connects the working head to the handle.
  • In a Doric frieze, a plain space between channels of a triglyph.

Food

  • Part of the leg of any animal, usually including the knuckle
  • beef from the lower muscular part of the foreleg, with more gristle than shin beef and generally used for consommé and stock
  • The Welsh term for leg of lamb

Media Studies

  • noun the body of a piece of type, between the foot and shoulder

Publishing

  • noun the main part of a piece of metal type

Slang

  • noun a homemade knife. A term used in prisons and by the members of street gangs since the 1950s. In standard English shank denotes the shaft or connecting rod of a tool or instrument.

Origin & History of “shank”

Shank originally meant ‘leg’, or more specifically ‘shin’ (Edward I of England was nicknamed ‘Longshanks’ on account of his long legs). The word goes back to a prehistoric west Germanic *skangkan, which also produced Dutch schenk ‘leg-bone’ and is closely related to German schinken ‘ham’. Its ultimate origins are not known, although it has been suggested that it arose from the notion of ‘crookedness’ or ‘lameness’ (in which case German hinken ‘limp’ may be related). The main modern meaning of shank, ‘stem, shaft’, emerged in the 16th century.
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