\ 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 Players and coaches are required to wear masks while on the sideline, and teams don’t shake hands after each game. Shawn Mcfarland,, "‘It’s been a learning curve for everybody’: Two weeks into the high school sports season, coaches and administrators continue to learn and adapt," 15 Oct. 2020 According to reports, Trump and Biden did not shake hands at the end of the debate. Elly Belle,, "A Timeline Of Everything Trump Did The Week Before He Tested Positive For COVID-19," 4 Oct. 2020 President Trump and Joe Biden do not shake hands upon entering. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Longtime ex-Major Leaguer dies, NFL game postponed, Ohio travel ban, more - coronavirus timeline Sept. 26-Oct. 2," 3 Oct. 2020 Trump and Biden did not shake hands during the debate, but stood without masks about 10 feet apart for the 90-minute event. Arkansas Online, "Trump, first lady positive for virus; he has 'mild symptoms'," 2 Oct. 2020 Trump and Biden did not shake hands during the debate but stood without masks about 10 feet apart for the 90-minute event. The Associated Press,, "Joe Biden tweets he's praying for Trump after president tests positive for coronavirus," 2 Oct. 2020 The men did not shake hands and, while neither candidate wore a mask to take the stage, their families did sport face coverings. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump and Biden lash out at each other in crucial first presidential campaign debate," 30 Sep. 2020 Wear a jaunty cap, and for effect, always have a protein shake at the ready. Bruce Jenkins,, "U.S. Open champion DeChambeau blazes a new path, but will anyone follow?," 22 Sep. 2020 Before the coronavirus pandemic, 30 dog teams (canine plus handler) would visit the kids’ rooms for a cuddle or paw shake, and two miniature horses would sometimes hang out in the main atrium or TV studio. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Doctors, nurses . . . dogs? A hospital’s furry workers help kids feel better.," 14 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The issue even prompted a shake-up of the Liberal front bench this summer. Kait Bolongaro,, "Trudeau Is Preparing to Test Limits of Debt-Financed Spending," 17 Oct. 2020 The shake-up at the highest level of government in Washington is a reminder to local leaders, Hallisey said. Yvette Orozco, Houston Chronicle, "Local mayors seek to set example during pandemic," 15 Oct. 2020 Gates had been appointed to the job by President George W. Bush in the shake-up after the 2006 midterm election, and President Obama kept him on for continuity. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Biden’s Foreign-Policy Folly," 15 Oct. 2020 Thinking a little shake-up might help, the board persuaded Neumann to step down as CEO, in return for an exit package worth nearly $1.7 billion, including the option of selling $970 million in shares to SoftBank. Vauhini Vara, The Atlantic, "The WeWork Guy’s Guide to Striking It Rich," 14 Oct. 2020 After that, the shake-up continued when the team traded its longtime starting goalie, Devan Dubnyk — entrusting its crease to a new No. 1 for the first time since 2015. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Bill Guerin embraces his mission to refurbish the Wild," 11 Oct. 2020 Money market funds are paying almost nothing, and a big shake-up is underway. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, "How to Hold Onto Your Money, Wherever the Market Takes You," 10 Oct. 2020 Even before the company’s management shake-up was announced, the billionaire had started taking a back seat on conference calls, letting McCrea and Long do most of the talking. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Energy Transfer’s Kelcy Warren turns over day-to-day control to co-CEOs," 9 Oct. 2020 When asked about the odor and the shake, the driver had no idea and stressed there was nothing inside of the Corolla. John Benson, cleveland, "Driver with marijuana shake on his lap and straight face tells officer his vehicle is clean: Broadview Heights Police Blotter," 7 Oct. 2020

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

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 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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