\ ˈshāk How to pronounce shake (audio) \
shook\ ˈshu̇k How to pronounce shook (audio) \; shaken\ ˈshā-​kən How to pronounce shaken (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 3 sense 3 a fair shake

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Other Words from shake


shakable or shakeable \ ˈshā-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce shakeable (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


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.


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

Previous issues with the feature and security updates have already shaken confidence in Microsoft's updating policy for Windows 10. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft’s problem isn’t how often it updates Windows—it’s how it develops it," 20 Oct. 2018 This reaction has shaken my opinion of many people. Wendy Dent, WIRED, "The Engineering Behind Elon Musk's Bid to Save Thailand's Cave Boys," 11 July 2018 The camera panned over to Bobby who was giving the thumbs down and shaking his head in disbelief. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Dancing With the Stars' Fans Ready to Revolt After Monday's Shocking Elimination Results," 13 Nov. 2018 Cabello, for her part, kept her cool and shook her head at the joke to remain classy about her old bandmates. Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "Tiffany Haddish Shaded Fifth Harmony at the VMAs—and Nicki Minaj Clapped Back," 20 Aug. 2018 On a number of occasions Stephens was seen looking up to her team in the stands, shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders with a look of perplexity on her face. Sandra Harwitt, USA TODAY, "American Sloane Stephens knocked out in first round at Wimbledon," 2 July 2018 At a court hearing Friday, Barron was seen in video posted online by NBC Los Angeles shaking her head and appearing to be on the verge of tears. Phil Helsel /, NBC News, "Mother charged with murder, torture in death of 10-year-old son," 30 June 2018 That was enough watching for Brewers catcher Erik Kratz, who stood out of his catcher’s stance and shook his head. Bobby Nightengale,, "Joey Votto says benches-clearing incident against Brewers was a 'misunderstanding'," 28 June 2018 The team continued to experiment with different launch procedures that reduced internal vibrations and gave the rocket an opportunity to get underway without shaking itself apart. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "The Saturn V Story: From Nazi Roots to America's Moon Rocket," 6 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An employee of a business in the 1700 block of Milwaukee Avenue told police June 19 that a customer was handed a shake at the drive thru and drove away without paying. Alexandra Kukulka,, "Police: $10,000 in mature vines cut off business' pergola," 29 June 2018 There's also a special red-white-and-blue shake made with strawbrrry custard and blue Pop Rocks. Bud Kennedy, star-telegram, "More than chicken-and-waffles at new TCU-area restaurant," 18 June 2018 Can Ruckert, a pass catching threat and five-star prospect unlike anyone Ohio State has had at the position under Meyer, come in a shake things up even more?, "Ohio State football offensive depth chart projection: Post-spring 2018," 24 Apr. 2018 She was spotted sometimes going to the McDonalds on New York Avenue to pick up Big Macs and fish sandwiches and a chocolate shake for the president. Eleanor Clift, Town & Country, "What Will Become of Hope Hicks?," 29 Mar. 2018 Suri said first-time customers are happy to spend $10 on a shake and $7 on a cup of cocoa just for the experience. Pam Kragen,, "Famed Unicorn shake shop opens Saturday in Del Mar," 13 Mar. 2018 Correction: An earlier version of this article gave the incorrect nutritional details for a medium shake. Jen Christensen, CNN, "Even without the buns, Trump's favorite fast-food meal is a diet-buster," 9 Mar. 2018 There’s just something about dipping a crinkle fry into a chocolate shake that’s satisfying. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, "A roundtable discussion about Shake Shack, hype, In-N-Out and crinkle-cut fries," 17 Jan. 2018 But the prized pitcher has bought him a few protein shakes. Matt Gelb,, "Phillies continue quest for pitching upgrade as spring training nears," 16 Jan. 2018

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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Statistics for shake

Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shake

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on shake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shake

Spanish Central: Translation of shake

Nglish: Translation of shake for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on shake

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a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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