\ 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


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

The message from last year is while there was shaken confidence with rising rates and a strengthening dollar, emerging markets held their nerve. Washington Post, "When a Spy Network Beats an Investing Spreadsheet," 18 Sep. 2019 For two inventors who are unaccustomed to seeing their creations in real life, the first six months of business has offered continued head-shaking moments of realism. oregonlive, "WaveCel bursts onto the bike scene, expands into Wilsonville facility," 16 Sep. 2019 During the stop, deputies noticed another woman in the back seat, who was shaking and crying, with bruising on her body, sheriff’s officials said. Los Angeles Times, "During traffic stop, passenger tells deputies the driver kidnapped and raped her," 16 Sep. 2019 The attendant started shaking his finger in the white-haired singer’s face. Chuck Yarborough,, "Mavis Staples: Rock Hall Honors winner continues work of MLK and ‘Pops’ Staples," 15 Sep. 2019 This is a dark and frightening part of the film, in which fantasy dies and the stark realities of the adult world shake the defenseless young people. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Weathering With You' ('Tenki no Ko'): Film Review | TIFF 2019," 14 Sep. 2019 On June 27, 2017, an individual who would become a confidential informant, drove to the ranch and found the Jacksons looking at something on the ground and shaking their heads, the affidavit said. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Gunnison County woman guilty of tampering with corpse after brother’s remains buried with goat heads," 13 Sep. 2019 The week celebrates more than blending, shaking and otherwise putting alcohol in fancy glasses. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Cocktail Week kicks off Sept. 23. Here are 4 events you'll want to check out.," 9 Sep. 2019 Both of these teams were embarrassed last week, and someone is going to leave the field shaking their heads and in an 0-2 hole to start 2019. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "BYU Cougars at Tennessee Volunteers odds, picks and best bets," 5 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The home is 60 years old and has a wood shake and red-brick facade. Real Estate, "Ask the Carpenter: Getting mold off cedar shingles, paint off brick," 18 July 2019 Good Burger opens July 10 in West Hollywood with a menu of burgers and shakes from Alvin Cailan of Eggslut. Hadley Tomicki,, "Sichuan hot pot restaurant Mala Town comes to Sawtelle; Filipino lunch counter opens downtown," 9 July 2019 In addition to the classics, the stand sells protein shakes and diet versions of flavors like cherry and egg custard. Christina Tkacik,, "10 Baltimore area snowball stands worth your time," 26 June 2019 The stand, which replaces the Bartolotta group's Northpoint Custard, has burgers, hot dogs, brats, wings, frozen custard and shakes, and items like hummus and chips and walking tacos, the snack that adds taco toppings to a bag of Doritos. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Dock at Bradford Beach opens Friday, joining MooSa's burgers and custard," 20 June 2019 On the way back to Arlington, Tom and Tracy stopped at Health Camp in Waco, a local institution serving malts, shakes and burgers. Gary Jacobson, Dallas News, "BBQ Posse journeys into heart of Texas to find perfect plate," 17 June 2019 Johnny Rockets has closed its location in the Summit Johnny Rockets, the restaurant chain specializing in burgers and shakes in a 50s style diner interior, has closed its location in the Summit, according to the Birmingham Business Journal. al, "1st and 23, Johnny Rockets in Birmingham are now closed," 9 Sep. 2019 Convenient options are the Barona Coffee Company for pastries, fresh cinnamon buns, sandwiches and salads, the Soup Stand for six varieties of eat-in or take-out soup and the Creamery, serving premium ice cream, soft serve, shakes and sundaes. San Diego Union-Tribune, "What you need to know about the 10 San Diego-area casinos," 8 Sep. 2019 Despite an offseason of bulking up and bench-pressing, protein shakes and personal-bests on the squat rack, USF still bore a striking resemblance to its feeble 2018 predecessor Friday night. Joey Knight,, "Wisconsin clobbers USF, hands Bulls worst loss in school history," 31 Aug. 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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Statistics for shake

Last Updated

16 Oct 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

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


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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