\ 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb He's reported to camp early and looks ready to shake off last season. La Velle E. Neal Iii, Star Tribune, "Five questions for the Twins entering their first full-squad workout," 21 Feb. 2021 Several North Carolina fans leaned over the railing to shake his hand. Childs Walker,, "Thirty five years later, Len Bias’ masterpiece in the Dean Dome remains his valedictory statement," 19 Feb. 2021 Jose Altuve, in full uniform, popped out of the Astros clubhouse to shake Aaron’s hand. Peter Abraham,, "Hank Aaron: A magnificent ballplayer and a profile in courage," 22 Jan. 2021 But Sutton slipped into the visiting clubhouse anyway, not to ask a question but to shake a hand. New York Times, "Don Sutton Had an ‘Easy Job’ Thanks to a Lifetime of Hard Work," 20 Jan. 2021 That didn't happen, and recent incidents have led consent decree advocates to question whether the department is ready to shake off its federal watchdogs. Matt Sledge,, "New Orleans Police Department seeks end to consent decree despite open issues," 17 Dec. 2020 And it won’t be seen as weird if people don’t want to shake your hand 10 years from now, a little bit like smoking on airlines. The Politics Of Everything, The New Republic, "Transcript: The Vaccine Pipeline," 16 Dec. 2020 Kansas is hoping Jalen Wilson can shake off the quarantine rust as well as David McCormack. Mark Heim |, al, "Kansas-USC live stream (3/22): How to watch March Madness online, TV, time," 22 Mar. 2021 The menu consists of tea and shake combos for two drinks that are made with a variety of vitamins and nutrients. Laura Bednar, cleveland, "New healthy beverage shop “Independence Nutrition” opens in Independence," 22 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Rather than a major cast shake-up, the eighth season of SVU put Benson undercover with the FBI for several episodes. Lillian Brown, Vulture, "20 Law & Order: SVU Episodes That Define Benson and Stabler’s Partnership," 1 Apr. 2021 Britain unveiled proposals for a shake-up of listing rules earlier this month to make London a more attractive venue for offerings of shares in tech companies and for the red-hot market for SPACs. Adrian Croft, Fortune, "Deliveroo shares plunge in its trading debut, a blow to Britain’s Big Tech ambitions," 31 Mar. 2021 Thanks to the shake-up at the top of the draft, the best receiver falls to the Lions, helping kick-start a new era under coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes. C.j. Doon,, "2021 NFL mock draft (Version 3.0): First-round projections after 49ers, Dolphins shake up the top 10," 31 Mar. 2021 The three commanders of Brazil’s armed forces resigned jointly on Tuesday, a day after President Jair Bolsonaro fired his defense minister as part of a big cabinet shake-up. New York Times, "Brazil’s Armed Forces Chiefs Resign Abruptly Amid Cabinet Shake-Up," 30 Mar. 2021 With the trade deadline looming, the Celtics have been in seemingly every rumor and the roster could be set for a shake-up. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, "Breakout Suns emerge as NBA championship contender: 'They're a damn good team'," 24 Mar. 2021 While every aspect of our personal lives underwent a significant change, the professional side also saw a massive shake-up. Jacob William, Forbes, "10 Remote Workplace Trends To Look Out For In 2021," 19 Mar. 2021 But the sale is unlikely to usher in a major shake-up of the art market. Washington Post, "Beeple’s digital ‘artwork’ sold for more than any painting by Titian or Raphael. But as art, it’s a great big zero.," 16 Mar. 2021 China’s parliament has endorsed electoral reforms that pave the way for Hong Kong's biggest shake-up since the former British colony was handed back to Chinese rule in 1997. Britt Clennett, ABC News, "China approves plan to tighten control of Hong Kong elections so that only ‘patriots’ run the city," 11 Mar. 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.

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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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Learn More about shake

Time Traveler for shake

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shake

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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

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Comments on shake

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