"leg of a human or animal," especially "the part of the leg from the knewe to the ankle," Old English sceanca "leg, shank, shinbone," specifically, the part of the leg from the knee to the ankle, from Proto-Germanic *skunkia- (source also of Middle Low German schenke, German schenkel "shank, leg"), perhaps literally "that which bends," from PIE root *skeng- "crooked" (source also of Old Norse skakkr "wry, distorted," Greek skazein "to limp").
From late 15c. as "straight part of a nail or pin." As "part of an instrument, tool, etc., which connects the acting part with the handle," from 1680s. The slang sense of "latter part or end of anything" is by 1828. Jocular shank's mare "one's own legs as a means of transportation" is attested from 1774 (as shanks-naig).
in golf, "to strike (the ball) with the heel of the club," by 1927, from shank (n.). Related: Shanked; shanking. Earlier as "to take to one's legs" (1774, Scottish); "to send off without ceremony" (1816, also Scottish).
updated on August 04, 2022