\ 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 Last month Fitch, a credit-rating agency, issued its first-ever warning that locusts could shake east Africa’s macroeconomic stability. The Economist, "Another sort of plague Locusts have hit east Africa hard," 4 July 2020 Stocks extended gains Wednesday after closing out their best quarter in decades, as positive vaccine news and upbeat employment data helped investors shake off a spike in coronavirus cases. Jessica Menton, USA TODAY, "Stocks kick off third quarter higher as Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine shows positive results," 1 July 2020 Even after decades in Boston, the feeling could be hard to shake: the constant wariness, the knowledge that at any moment, even the most meticulous life could come apart. Eric Boodman, STAT, "In the Covid-19 death of a hospital food worker, a microcosm of the pandemic," 30 June 2020 If the pandemic doesn’t shake us out of this madness, maybe nothing will. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "Big Pharma’s Got a Brand New Coronavirus Grift," 30 June 2020 The active area on the sensor can actually move around in order to try to counteract camera shake. Popular Science, "Panasonic’s new vlogging camera uses facial recognition tracking to isolate the sound of your voice," 25 June 2020 The rookie spoke about needing time to shake off rust and get comfortable competing once again. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Darius Garland never felt like himself this season, wants to show he is ‘way better’ than rookie year," 25 June 2020 Melton recalls one white woman refusing to shake his hand at an event. Chris Sikich, The Indianapolis Star, "Race, gender and politics: A man pointed a gun at Dr. Myers, a woman refused to shake Sen. Melton's hand," 23 June 2020 In recent years, multiple inmates told ProPublica, the ceiling of the ground-floor dorms would shake when the inmates above got out of their bunks after daily roll call. Dara Lind, ProPublica, "The Prison Was Built to Hold 1,500 Inmates. It Had Over 2,000 Coronavirus Cases.," 18 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Strike a midcorner bump, and a brief shake will run through the Spider's aluminum structure, the only negative evidence of its roof-ectomy. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, "2020 Ferrari F8 Spider Protects Your Hearing," 1 July 2020 The sudden shake-up of the world has impacted people in a variety of ways. Lynn Saladino,, "How to Manage Disappointment and Anger During COVID-19, According to a Psychologist," 29 June 2020 Seal tightly and give the bottle a good shake to fully combine ingredients. Jorie Nicole Mcdonald, Southern Living, "Smelly Odors Are No Match For This DIY Air Freshener," 29 June 2020 The chip shake-up is good for TSMC, too, since the new business arrives shortly after the U.S. forced TSMC to drop Huawei, the giant Chinese telecoms equipment maker, as a client. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Apple chip contract would help Taiwan Semiconductors fill a Huawei-shaped hole," 22 June 2020 Wine critic Esther Mobley details the shake-up in the prominent organization. Kellie Hwang,, "Bay Briefing: Learning to coexist with coronavirus," 22 June 2020 The question is whether amid this shake-up the luxury world can keep its grip on the wallets of the world’s big spenders. The Economist, "Fashion victims How slow times in the luxury world will separate the bling from the chaff," 20 June 2020 The shake-up comes after video emerged over the weekend, showing a police SUV driving through a crowd of demonstrators who blocked its path, although the police said that demonstrators had been attacking the vehicle. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Richmond police chief forced out as protests continue," 16 June 2020 Such a shake-up opens an opportunity for India, especially for its Hindi heartland. Prateek Raj, Quartz India, "India’s Covid-19-led reverse migration could be an opportunity for its Hindi heartland," 15 June 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

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 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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