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Question #3927 posted on 03/08/2004 12:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I came across the phrase "a gaelic shrug" recently in a manuscript I was reading. I can't recall ever hearing this before, and I don't quite understand what it's referring to/describing. Please help!
- not as literate as I previously thought

A: Dear Member of the Literati,

You're not as illiterate as you thought, either. From the research I could find, "gaelic shrug" is a mistype for "gallic shrug," which, of course, means "French shrug." What that means, I am as yet unable to ascertain. It involves movement of the shoulders (shocking, I know). It seems to be the French equivalent of "yeah, sure, uh-huh, uh-uh, nope, dunno." More than that, I do not know. I've found quotes using the phrase but no definitions in reliable dictionaries.

--quoth Ambrosia, with a gallic shrug