\ 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 2 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

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 Bartlett's childhood memories include shaking the pecans off the trees in the backyard, which her grandmother would use to make pies. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "How one Phoenix-area chef celebrates her Louisiana roots (and Mardi Gras) with vegan jambalaya," 17 Feb. 2020 Instead, medical personnel continue to use a paper questionnaire that relies on answers from patients — patients who may have reasons to hide or exaggerate symptoms, or who may be too shaken to answer questions accurately. Dave Philipps And,, "Brain injuries are common in battle. The military has no reliable test for them.," 16 Feb. 2020 Iranians go to the polls on Friday to elect members of the 290-seat Iranian parliament, less than two months since the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. strike, which shook the regime and boosted dissidents. Fox News, "Iranian dissidents call for election boycott after regime disqualifies thousands of candidates," 16 Feb. 2020 Cincinnati Reds offseason There was a lot of moving and shaking for the Reds this offseason. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "How many games will the Cincinnati Reds win in 2020?," 15 Feb. 2020 Stir or shake to mix then add about 3 ounces of Prosecco (or other dry sparkling wine). CBS News, "The Dish: Acclaimed pastry chef Claudia Fleming shares her favorite sweet and savory recipes," 15 Feb. 2020 And inking deals and shaking hands is what the Singapore Airshow is all about. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Business’s coronavirus conundrum: What’s the best alternative to a handshake?," 13 Feb. 2020 My sense of self and of all that surrounded me shook and shifted in those first few years after acquiring a disability, but embracing my identity as a disabled woman gave me a community, a purpose, resources. Jessica Slice, Glamour, "What Are You Doing Right Now? I’m in Chronic Pain," 12 Feb. 2020 But President Trump’s ground-shaking conduct has demolished those once-sacrosanct guardrails. Ben Protess, New York Times, "After Stone Case, Prosecutors Say They Fear Pressure From Trump," 12 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Smoothie King is a chain franchise that focuses on using healthy ingredients in their shakes to focus on supporting a healthy lifestyle. Chris Shelton, Houston Chronicle, "Roundups: Chicken Salad Chick opens in Kingwood development Northpark Center," 23 Jan. 2020 But, as the label has generated more buzz in the high-end market, a sudden mass-market collaboration is a real and appreciated shake-up. Braden Bjella, Teen Vogue, "Telfar Is Launching an Affordable Collaboration With Gap," 17 Jan. 2020 Now, in the midst of a major shake-up to the sitting Royal family, Markle may have to face her own father in court. Sarah Midkiff,, "Meghan Markle’s Father Could End Up Testifying Against Her In Court," 15 Jan. 2020 The prince’s father, King Salman, ordered a shake-up of top security posts after the killing. Abdullah Al-shihri, Twin Cities, "Saudis sentence 5 people to death for Jamal Khashoggi murder," 23 Dec. 2019 Nearby, Elaina Perez, a pharmacy technician from San Jose, was training her smartphone camera on her Minnie Witch Shake — a mint chocolate shake with a candy bow tie and Oreo cookie ears. Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times, "Sangria blood bags: Theme parks use Halloween to take #foodporn a step further," 16 Oct. 2019 The officer found marijuana shake, rolling papers and a cigar filled with marijuana during a vehicle search, according to the report. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Police report finding narcotics stashes during Friendswood traffic stops," 30 Jan. 2020 Then there was almond milk (available in boxes alongside the European-style long-shelf-life milk), which nutritionists recommend for smoothies and protein shakes, and which Starbucks endorses as a dairy substitute in lattes. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, "Milk: It Does an Impeachment Good," 23 Jan. 2020 This Olmos Park hole-in-the-wall burger shop from superstar chef Andrew Weissman keeps it simple: single or double burgers with or without cheese, fries, shakes, a few add-ons. Chuck Blount,, "Top 10 Best Burger Restaurants in the San Antonio area," 27 Dec. 2019

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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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

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for shake


How to pronounce shake (audio)

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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