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

Other Words from shake


shakable or shakeable \ ˈshā-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce shake (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Donald isn't the only defender seeking to shake things up, either. Victoria Hernandez, USA TODAY, 26 July 2022 Rehab setbacks and new injuries would shake things up again. Jonas Shaffer, Baltimore Sun, 11 July 2022 But if this year’s unpredictable race is anything to go by, don’t rule out another wild card over the next week to shake things up once again. Liam Hess, Vogue, 3 July 2022 Elsewhere in Chucalissa, a shakeup in political control could prove to shake things up for everyone. Rivea Ruff, Essence, 9 June 2022 Sometimes buyers get complacent, and sellers need to take on a provocative approach in order to shake things up and open doors to new dialogues. Julie Thomas, Forbes, 6 June 2022 Nazi ties, Vaught CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) decides to shake things up by promoting Starlight to co-captain of the Seven. Alex Raiman,, 3 June 2022 Wanting to shake things up, Oliver went into the Las Vegas to find Ernst's replacement, former Findlay Prep coach Andy Johnson, a top recruiter in that prep academy that led to national championships. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 27 May 2022 While iPhone designs since the iPhone X haven’t changed that drastically, the iPhone 14 is poised to shake things up. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 25 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun No answers will come overnight but this much is clear: The airline industry is getting a major shake-up. Dawn Gilbertson, WSJ, 28 July 2022 Some aspects of his shake-up worked; the company’s market value grew by more than $50 billion, or 78%, by November 2019. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, 27 July 2022 The leadership shake-up adds to doubts about the timing. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 25 July 2022 The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that the agency is preparing for a shake-up of its food-safety program, four months after a nationwide shortage of baby formula drew attention to shortcomings in the program. Laura Reiley,, 20 July 2022 Epstein's death, and damning accounts of prison operations, prompted a leadership shake-up. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, 20 July 2022 The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that the agency is preparing for a shake-up of its food-safety program, four months after a nationwide shortage of baby formula drew attention to shortcomings in the program. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, 20 July 2022 But the extended day is gone, a casualty of the government’s focus on revamping the welfare system in a shake-up that economists warn will hurt Mexico’s poorest and hobble growth for the world’s 15th largest economy. New York Times, 18 July 2022 The move launched him on an improbable journey that led to an upset victory, a shake-up of a normally low-profile office and nationwide scrutiny of the way his office ran the 2020 election after Donald Trump's loss. Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, 13 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

30 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for shake


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on shake

Nglish: Translation of shake for Spanish Speakers

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


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