\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Unfortunately, one popular protein shake brand is forced to recall a number of its products due to a mixup that resulted in soy protein being included in the recipe. Mike Wehner, BGR, "If you have these protein shakes at home, throw them out," 5 May 2021 Prominent red lettering touts the medjool date shake to those traveling along California State Route 78 and 86. Los Angeles Times, "During Ramadan, every night is a ‘date’ night," 3 May 2021 But the idea of something that could shake the trauma from my body, and also celebrate my accomplishment in becoming a mom—did have its hooks in me. Sarah Hoover, Vogue, "End the Baby Shower, Start the Birth Party: A Manifesto for a New Vagina Monologue," 3 May 2021 Johnson, apparently unnerved at this point, attempted one crossover dribble, then another, but could not shake the center. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert builds a fortress down low that fatigued Spurs give up trying to penetrate," 3 May 2021 Kohl's shares have risen about 20% since the activists announced their plans to shake Kohl's up, and held steady on news on Wednesday there would be peace. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Kohl’s CEO wins truce with activist shareholders," 14 Apr. 2021 Yet there are too many high-profile names on injury reports to shake the sense of crisis. New York Times, "Injuries Are Raining on the N.B.A.’s Championship Parade," 14 Apr. 2021 There is the sense, particularly in the last 50 pages, that the novel could shake off one or two plot turns without losing one bit of its charm. —Ms. Kaufman writes on culture and the arts for the Journal. Joanne Kaufman, WSJ, "‘Early Morning Riser’ Review: Small Town, Big Personalities," 23 Apr. 2021 The dancers, wearing black skullcaps, white masks and red clown noses, wiggle their hips and shake their arms like elephant's trunks while reflecting the hurly-burly of a circus. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Ballet's 'Re.Gen' brings back hits from 'Genesis' competition for live and online audiences," 23 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The abrupt actions against the two generals mark the second major shake-up in California’s Military Department in as many years. Los Angeles Times, "Today’s Headlines: Turmoil atop the California National Guard," 3 May 2021 The Biden administration expressed grave concerns about the abrupt shake-up, which took place just days before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Ukraine next week. NBC News, "Ukraine faces sharp criticism from U.S., EU after sacking management at state energy company," 30 Apr. 2021 Microsoft Word is set for a shake-up with Microsoft announcing plans to change the default font for the first time in 14 years. Barry Collins, Forbes, "Microsoft Word: Which Of These Will Be The New Default Font?," 28 Apr. 2021 An offseason shake-up to the Wild's roster didn't just change the look of the lineup. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Jared Spurgeon stresses each player's value as Wild's new captain," 28 Apr. 2021 An outside investigation that followed Guillén’s death led to a shake-up at Fort Hood that included the sacking of the acting post commander and two top division leaders. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "'So outrageous': Vanessa Guillén's murder has made a key military justice reform more likely," 26 Apr. 2021 The shake-up leaves Godwin in charge of the most consequential decision a broadcast news leader can make — how to rejuvenate a morning show — at a time when the very future of the business is in question. NBC News, "As network news leadership shuffles, doubts about future loom," 21 Apr. 2021 Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Monday named a new chief of environment, energy, and open space for the city, the latest Cabinet-level shake-up in the transition from Martin J. Walsh’s administration., "Janey appoints new environmental chief for Boston," 19 Apr. 2021 The plans, which would represent the most significant shake-up of elite European football in recent history, was met with immediate condemnation from fans, politicians, former players and the sport's regulators. Matias Grez And John Sinnott, CNN, "European Super League: 12 soccer giants intent on shaking up 'beautiful game'," 19 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shake

Time Traveler for shake

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for shake

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shake



English Language Learners Definition of shake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move sometimes violently back and forth or up and down with short, quick movements
: to move or have parts of your body move in short, quick movements and in a way that you are not able to control
: to free yourself from (someone or something) : to get away from or get rid of (someone or something)



English Language Learners Definition of shake (Entry 2 of 2)

: a short, quick movement back and forth or up and down
informal : a condition in which parts of your body move in a way that you are not able to control


\ 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

Comments on shake

What made you want to look up shake? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!