\ ˈshāk How to pronounce shake (audio) \
shook\ ˈshu̇k How to pronounce shake (audio) \; shaken\ ˈshā-​kən How to pronounce shake (audio) \; shaking

Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move irregularly to and fro
2 : to vibrate especially as the result of a blow or shock
3 : to tremble as a result of physical or emotional disturbance shook with fear
4 : to experience a state of instability : totter
5 : to briskly move something to and fro or up and down especially in order to mix
6 : to clasp hands

transitive verb

1 : to brandish, wave, or flourish often in a threatening manner protesters shaking their fists
2 : to cause to move to and fro, up and down, or from side to side especially in a repetitive, rhythmic, or quick jerky manner shook his head in disapproval
3 : to cause to quake, quiver, or tremble
4a : to free oneself from shake a habit shake off a cold
b : to get away from : get rid of can you shake your friend? I want to talk to you alone— Elmer Davis
5 : to lessen the stability of : weaken shake one's faith
6 : to bring to a specified condition by or as if by repeated quick jerky movements shook himself loose from the man's grasp
7 : to dislodge or eject by quick jerky movements of the support or container shook the dust from the cloth
8 : to clasp (hands) in greeting or farewell or as a sign of goodwill or agreement
9 : to stir the feelings of : upset, agitate shook her up
shake a leg
1 : dance
2 : to hurry up
shake a stick at
: to form a conception of (as by counting or imagining) : conceive usually used in the phrase more than one can shake a stick at



Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of shaking: such as
a : an act of shaking hands
b : an act of shaking oneself
2a : a blow or shock that upsets the equilibrium or disturbs the balance of something
3 shakes plural
a : a condition of trembling or nervousness specifically : delirium tremens
4 : something produced by shaking: such as
a : a fissure separating annual rings of growth in timber
b(1) : milkshake
(2) : a beverage resembling a milkshake a protein shake
5 : a wavering, quivering, or alternating motion caused by a blow or shock
6 : trill
7 : a very brief period of time I'll be there in two shakes
8 shakes plural : one that is exceptional especially in importance, ability, or merit usually used in the phrase no great shakes
9 : a shingle split from a piece of log usually three or four feet (about one meter) long
10 : deal entry 2 sense 3 a fair shake

Other Words from shake


shakable or shakeable \ ˈshā-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce shake (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for shake


shake, agitate, rock, convulse mean to move up and down or to and fro with some violence. shake often carries a further implication of a particular purpose. shake well before using agitate suggests a violent and prolonged tossing or stirring. an ocean agitated by storms rock suggests a swinging or swaying motion resulting from violent impact or upheaval. the whole city was rocked by the explosion convulse suggests a violent pulling or wrenching as of a body in a paroxysm. spectators were convulsed with laughter

Examples of shake in a Sentence

Verb The ground shook during the earthquake. The house shook as the train rumbled by. The earthquake shook the ground. Shake the salad dressing well before using it. I was so nervous that I was shaking like a leaf. The fugitive couldn't shake the police. It's hard to shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something. The news did nothing to shake my belief that things will be okay. Nothing could shake his faith in God. Noun He responded to the question with a shake of his head. Give the dice a shake. He drank too much coffee and got a bad case of the shakes. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This is the time to shake it all off and enjoy the evening. Chicago Tribune, 19 Sep. 2022 Former Dancing with the Stars mirror ball champion and new co-host Alfonso Ribeiro is excited to see the cast of season 31 shake it on the floor, but there's one contestant in particular whose time on the show he's intrigued to watch. Lanae Brody, Peoplemag, 16 Sep. 2022 Add all of your ingredients, seal it, and shake it. Ysolt Usigan, Woman's Day, 15 Sep. 2022 Bad dancers in the audience were asked not to shake it during the musical opening number. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, 14 Sep. 2022 The story of her sister pulls all this into another dimension, and the way Poitras and Goldin have brought the threads together, into the light, is a distillation likely to shake you to the core. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2022 The machine then told me to shake it, strain it, and serve. Chris Hachey, BGR, 5 Aug. 2022 What might serve to shake you out of this state, this week at least, is that Microsoft has just issued a warning urging Apple macOS users to install security updates as soon as possible as well. Davey Winder, Forbes, 15 July 2022 Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and, with the mixer on low, shake them into the wet ingredients. Julia O'malley, Anchorage Daily News, 30 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The move comes as yet another shake-up at CNN following Chris Licht's takeover as CEO. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 22 Sep. 2022 The shake-up is significant as Powell has been an influential figure in the crypto scene since Bitcoin’s early days, growing Kraken from a small startup to a major exchange with a reputation for product innovation. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, 21 Sep. 2022 The shake-up didn’t end there, however, Adani fell to No. 3, ahead of Bezos, by the afternoon. Hamza Shaban, Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2022 The shake-up in the rankings of the world’s richest people comes as stocks have slumped this year amid rising interest rates and rising inflation. Allison Prang, WSJ, 16 Sep. 2022 And while the team hopes to build on that experience in its second year, the offseason has predictably provided a shake-up. Chris Bieri, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Sep. 2022 One particularly hawkish and influential Russian-language Telegram account, which calls itself War Gonzo and boasts nearly 1.1 million subscribers, openly called for a shake-up of the top military command. Markus Ziener, Los Angeles Times, 12 Sep. 2022 In a memorable red carpet appearance, Barbra Streisand exchanged a hand shake and a few words with Elizabeth at the London premiere of Funny Lady in 1975, alongside costar James Caan. Rachel Desantis, Peoplemag, 8 Sep. 2022 The no hand-shake rule seemed like a way to avoid to a potentially awkward interaction between Biden and the crown prince. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, 15 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of shake


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shake


Middle English, from Old English sceacan; akin to Old Norse skaka to shake

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The first known use of shake was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for shake


\ ˈshāk How to pronounce shake (audio) \
shook\ ˈshu̇k \; shaken\ ˈshā-​kən \; shaking

Kids Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make or cause to make quick movements back and forth or up and down The ground shook. Squirrels shook the branches.
2 : to tremble or make tremble : quiver She was so frightened her legs began to shake.
3 : to move from side to side I shook my head.
4 : to grasp and move up and down After reaching an agreement, they shook hands.
5 : to get away from She ran faster, but couldn't shake the dog.
6 : to make less firm : weaken After being beaten badly their confidence was shaken.
7 : to cause to be, become, go, or move by or as if by using a quick back and forth motion We can shake apples from the tree.



Kids Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

: a quick back and forth or up and down movement

More from Merriam-Webster on shake

Nglish: Translation of shake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shake for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shake


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