AskDefine | Define shack

Dictionary Definition

shack n : small crude shelter used as a dwelling [syn: hovel, hut, hutch, shanty]


1 make one's home or live in; "She resides officially in Iceland"; "I live in a 200-year old house"; "These people inhabited all the islands that are now deserted"; "The plains are sparsely populated" [syn: dwell, reside, live, inhabit, people, populate, domicile, domiciliate]
2 move, proceed, or walk draggingly pr slowly; "John trailed behind behis class mates"; "The Mercedes trailed behind the horse cart" [syn: trail]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1


  • /ʃæk/
  • Rhymes with: -æk


  1. A crude, roughly built hut or cabin.


  1. To live in or with; to shack up.
  2. misspelling of shake
Live in or with

Etymology 2

Obsolete variant of shake


  1. Grain to the ground and left after harvest.
  2. Nuts which have fallen to the ground.
  3. Freedom to pasturage in order to feed upon shack.


  1. To shed or fall, as corn or grain at harvest.
  2. To feed in stubble, or upon waste corn.

Extensive Definition

A shack is a type of small house that is in disrepair. The word may derive from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word xacalli or "adobe house" by way of Mexican Spanish xacal/jacal, which has the same meaning as "shack" It was a common usage among people of Mexican ancestry throughout the U.S. southwest and was picked up by speakers of American English.
In Australia, particularly in Tasmania, shacks were originally holiday homes located on crown land such as along river banks (especially the Murray River) or near beaches. They were roughly built as they were likely to get washed away in floods, and had no legal title on the land they were built on. Now, a lot of the shack owners have freehold title to their land, and are subject to building codes to reduce the risk of damage or injury from floods and storms. Many are now quite grand holiday homes and summer houses. The New Zealand equivalent is called a bach.
In South Africa, shacks (also referred to as mikhukhu or imijondolo ) are an increasingly common form of accommodation for millions of people and are mostly found in or around urban areas, particularly on the outskirts of larger cities. In recent years shack dwellers have organised major protests around the country. The largest movement of shack dwellers is called Abahlali baseMjondolo (loosely translated: "The Residents from the Shacks"), and is based in Durban.

Other meanings of the word

  • In amateur radio jargon, a shack refers to the place where an amateur radio operator's radio sending and receiving apparatus is located and operated. The term originally meant that part of a ship where the radio apparatus was located and operated.
  • In military aviation jargon, a "shack" refers to a successful, direct hit on a ground target.
  • Bus stops are often referred to as "shacks" by commuters and the common passerby because some bus stops have roofs on top of the stops for shade and protection from the rain.


shack in German: Baracke
shack in Lithuanian: Barakas
shack in Russian: Барак

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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