\ˈshāk \
shook\ˈshu̇k \; shaken\ˈshā-kən \; 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

b : earthquake

3 shakes plural

a : a condition of trembling or nervousness specifically : delirium tremens

b : malaria sense 2a

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 \ 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

But Mbappe’s speed is an undeniable asset running at Vertonghen, and Pogba’s ability to shake off Fellaini in the last 10 minutes is a good sign for France. Rory Smith, New York Times, "France, With Flash to Spare, Reaches the World Cup Final," 11 July 2018 When the uprising that has shaken President Daniel Ortega erupted in April, one of the first antigovernment marches was convened by an institution not known in recent years for civil disobedience: the country’s powerful private business association. John Otis, WSJ, "Nicaraguan Leader’s Former Pro-Business Allies Want Him Out," 10 July 2018 Place wedges on the grate, being sure to shake off excess liquid, close the lid, and grill until lightly golden brown and just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning often. Polly Campbell,, "Big Green Eggs: A cult or a cooking method?," 6 July 2018 The Tories, however, are keen to atone for their past mistakes on LGBT rights, and to shake off an illiberal reputation. The Economist, "A culture war comes to Westminster," 5 July 2018 In the clip that has since gone viral, Blue shook her head a few times before ducking down dramatically in an attempt to escape the embarrassment. Stephanie Petit,, "Beyoncé Climbs Down a Ladder After Technical Malfunction Leaves Her Stranded on Stage," 2 July 2018 Her trip, by her own account, from Central America made Gonzalez Garcia one of the thousands of immigrant parents forcibly separated from their children in an episode that shook the nation. Nick Oza, azcentral, "A Guatemalan mother is driving from the border to New York to find her separated children," 1 July 2018 Minimal disruption means to avoid shaking off or dropping any of the spider mites. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, "It’s early, but you may want to pull your tomatoes now," 22 June 2018 After losing, did this Aggie tennis player spit in his palm before shaking hands? Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Texas A&M student says athlete who sexually assaulted her is back on men's swimming and diving team," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This is music with shake-you-up hooks, frenzied tempos, gnarly guitars and anthemic vocals. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Idiot Kids at Outer Limits, Nick Speed at the Old Miami," 5 July 2018 Vegan restaurants, meanwhile, have sprung up in Paris and edgy bits of other cities, serving raw food, kale and green shakes to végétaliens. The Economist, "French vegans are tormenting France’s butchers," 5 July 2018 Curry might not have the speed to blow by defenders, but there's enough shake in his game to make way for a pull-up jumper. Rob Mahoney,, "NBA Free Agency 2018: Under-the-Radar Grades," 4 July 2018 Pour all the ingredients into a shaker and dry shake for about 10 seconds. 2. Anush Elbakyan,, "Cool off with these essential summer cocktails," 3 July 2018 This may seem counterintuitive, but some stabilization systems actually introduce shake if there isn't any, and some of them also boost the ISO or use a faster shutter speed to snap a crisper shot. Wired Staff, WIRED, "How to Take Awesome Photos of Fireworks," 3 July 2018 Morsels of cakey goodness get mixed seamlessly into this smooth, rich shake. Lori Rackl,, "Bicentennial bucket list: 20 essential Illinois drinks," 29 June 2018 Half were followed by an uncomfortable shake of Font's right arm. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Rare rough showing from Astros results in loss to Rays," 29 June 2018 Chipotle’s plan also includes trying out items like quesadillas and chocolate shakes. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Chipotle Is Planning to Close Up to 65 Stores—But It Will Add a Happy Hour Menu," 28 June 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

16 Oct 2018

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

the shakes : a condition in which parts of your body move in a way that you are not able to control


\ˈshāk \
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

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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