Definition of “shock” - English Dictionary

“shock” in English

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uk /ʃɒk/ us /ʃɑːk/

shock noun (SURPRISE)

B1 [ C or U ] (the emotional or physical reaction to) a sudden, unexpected, and usually unpleasant event or experience:

Her mother's death came as a great shock - it was so unexpected.
It was such a loud crash - it gave me/I got quite a shock.
It was a shock to see her looking so ill.
I was in (a state of) shock for about two weeks after the accident.
UK Manchester City suffered a shock defeat (= completely unexpected defeat) at the weekend.
a shock to the system

an unpleasant feeling that you experience when something new or unusual happens:

It's really hard getting back to work after three months off - it's quite a shock to the system.

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shock noun (OFFENDED)

[ U ] a feeling of being offended or upset by something you consider wrong or unacceptable:

You should have seen the look of shock on her face when he started swearing!


shockverb [ I or T ]

uk /ʃɒk/ us /ʃɑːk/

shock verb [ I or T ] (SURPRISE)

B2 to make someone feel upset or surprised:

The photographs of starving children shocked people into giving money.
The news of the accident shocked the family deeply.

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adjective uk /ˈʃɒk.ə.bəl/ us /ˈʃɑː.kə.bəl/

I have to be careful what I say to my mother - she's very shockable (= easily offended).
adjective uk /ʃɒkt/ us /ʃɑːkt/


After his announcement, there was a shocked silence.
[ + to infinitive ] We were shocked to see smoke pouring out of the roof.

(Definition of “shock” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“shock” in American English

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us /ʃɑk/

shock noun (SURPRISE)

[ C/U ] a sudden, unexpected, and often unpleasant or offensive event, or the emotional or physical reaction to such an event:

[ C ] It was kind of a shock to hear they wanted to throw it out.

[ C/U ] Shock is also a medical condition caused by severe injury, pain, loss of blood, or fright that slows down the flow of blood around the body:

[ U ] She was going into shock – her flesh was becoming chilled and her muscles were contracting.


[ U ] the effect, often including damage or slight movement, of one object hitting another forcefully:

Running shoes lose their ability to absorb shock.


[ C ] a current of electricity going through the body:

If that cord is pulled loose, you’ll get a shock from the plug.
adjective us /ˈʃɑk·ɪŋ/

The book was considered shocking when it was first published.

shockverb [ I/T ]

us /ʃɑk/

shock verb [ I/T ] (SURPRISE)

to make someone suddenly feel very upset or surprised:

[ T ] Her painting might shock viewers.
[ I ] The ads were designed to shock.

(Definition of “shock” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)