For example:

He keeps shunning (or dodging) me, because he owes me some money.

Which one is correct? If both, which one is more appropriate?

The dictionary I checked wasn't too helpful:

Shun: avoid somebody/something

Dodge: to avoid doing something, especially in a dishonest way

  • 5
    Do me a favor and copy/paste the definitions of these two words into your question, from your favorite dictionary (make sure to name the specific dictionary you used), then elaborate on any questions you have remaining.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 18, 2015 at 21:53
  • 3
    I think @Dan means, please do us a favor... These questions can be tedious to answer when you ask, "What is the difference between X and Y?" because the first step in answering these questions is looking them up in the dictionary – something that you should be doing, not the people who are answering. Please read this meta question, this meta answer, and then see this ELU question for a great example.
    – J.R.
    Jun 18, 2015 at 23:15
  • The part about "dodge" suggesting dishonesty is not consistent. One can speak about "dodging a bullet", which means avoiding a catastrophic outcome and has no disapproving overtone, while "dodging a question" does indeed suggest dishonesty. Jun 19, 2015 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


I see enough ambiguity in the definitions to warrant the question.

To dodge someone|something is to avoid them|it because you don't want them|it to see you or accost you.

We might dodge an organized crime "hit man", or dodge a question.

To shun someone|something is to avoid them|it because you have chosen to ignore or "turn your back on" them|it.

The difference lies in the motive and also in the manner. Dodging is done on an ad hoc basis, when the need arises. Shunning is planned and deliberate and ongoing.

We might shun an acquaintance who committed a felony, or shun casinos.

In Pennsylvania where I live (and elsewhere) the Amish, a religious community (who are portrayed in the film Witness by Australian director Peter Weir) will shun a member of their community who has committed in their estimation a very serious sin; they treat the person as though he or she did not exist.

  • 1
    I also think shunning has a connotation of "consistently". If I shunned you yesterday, I'll shun you today, and probably tomorrow. If I dodged my landlord on Thursday, I might not dodge him on Friday after I've been paid and have the money for the rent.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 19, 2015 at 0:34
  • 1
    I'd add that 'dodge' implies I am actively moving out of your 'line of sight' to avoid being noticed, whilst 'shun' more implies that I see you, yet I blank your presence as though you didn't exist. Jun 19, 2015 at 8:03
  • 2
    I agree with you both. "Consistently" and "as though you didn't exist" are definitely part and parcel of shunning.
    – TimR
    Jun 19, 2015 at 9:22
  • So, in my sentence about owing money, which one is more appropriate, "keep dodging me" or "keep shunning me"? Jun 19, 2015 at 13:43
  • @Jokaec: What do you think the more appropriate one is? Are you more like a hit man to him, or more like a sinner? :)
    – TimR
    Jun 19, 2015 at 13:46

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