trem·​ble | \ˈtrem-bəl \
trembled; trembling\ˈtrem-​b(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of tremble 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to shake involuntarily (as with fear or cold) : shiver

2 : to move, sound, pass, or come to pass as if shaken or tremulous the building trembled from the blast

3 : to be affected with great fear or anxiety trembled for the safety of her child



Definition of tremble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of trembling especially : a fit or spell of involuntary shaking or quivering

2 trembles plural in form but singular in construction : severe poisoning of livestock and especially cattle by a toxic alcohol present in a snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) and rayless goldenrod that is characterized especially by muscular tremors, weakness, and constipation

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Other Words from tremble


trembler \ˈtrem-​b(ə-​)lər \ noun

Synonyms for tremble

Synonyms: Noun

quiver, shiver, shudder

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Examples of tremble in a Sentence


His arms and legs began to tremble. My voice trembled as I began to speak. I opened the letter with trembling hands. The house trembled as the big truck drove by.


with a tremble, she ventured out into the snow
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

All these actions helped tamp down an internal chaos; a relentless daily assault of dread and fear that trembled around and inside my body. Amanda Stern, SELF, "The Long and Winding Road to Managing My Anxiety," 25 July 2018 In his city, on this very street, gangs were rampaging, people were trembling in fear, cars were burning, the sounds of machine-gun fire filled the air, people were taking terrible advantage of him. George Saunders, The New Yorker, "Little St. Don," 19 Feb. 2016 There are roses trembling in the breeze, and a long, sloping, grassy lawn that leads down to a pool and the Pacific Ocean beyond, flickering in the high afternoon sun. Jonathan Van Meter, Vogue, "Lady Gaga Opens Up About A Star Is Born, MeToo, and a Decade in Pop," 10 Sep. 2018 Others tremble in their seats or bury their heads in their hands. Karen De Sa,, "Teens pushed to the brink at ‘leadership’ camps," 18 June 2018 Ishii grovels and trembles on the floor while being yelled at, as the real culprit looks on. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry," 23 Apr. 2018 General manager Rob Pelinka was sitting on a narrow balcony outside his second-floor office, overlooking two empty practice courts at the nine-month-old training facility, when the baskets swayed and the floodlights trembled. Lee Jenkins,, "Summer of Showtime: Why All Eyes Will Be on the Lakers," 17 Apr. 2018 The boy was trembling when his grandmother confronted Sandoval. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Grandmother heard boy cry, ‘No, no, stop,’ in the bedroom. Then this man left town, Texas cops say," 11 July 2018 After sending Jean Blanc home, Becca is trembling — the aftereffects of her touch with true, true Bachelor honesty. Rebecca Farley,, "The Bachelorette Season 14, Episode 4 Recap: Two Rose Ceremonies, One Clown," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Feel a tremble in your stomach, in your chest, in your fingertips. Shelly Oria, Longreads, "How to Be Single," 2 July 2018 The 28-year-old record for NCAA tournament 3-point shots, the 21 by Loyola Marymount in 1990 against Michigan, began a rare tremble. Chuck Culpepper,, "An efficiency of movement: Villanova's offense takes over," 1 Apr. 2018 The researchers have installed a complex network of sensors that monitor Mayon’s every tremble and burp and are using their vast amounts of knowledge garnered from past events to interpret the volcano’s every shiver. Maya Wei-haas, Smithsonian, "Geology Makes the Mayon Volcano Visually Spectacular—And Dangerously Explosive," 19 Jan. 2018 The 17-year-old says nothing, but his lower lip trembles. Washington Post, "The story must be told.," 3 Nov. 2017 For the yellow sun of its belly and the sugar-drunk bee that pulls us with it into this tremble of gold petals. Hartford Courant,, "Loss And Affirmation: The Poems Of Julia Morris Paul," 18 July 2017 There’s Lenny, the deliverer of that tectonic change, and there’s Sister Mary, a wily, possibly addled nun/mother figure played with fretful tremble by Diane Keaton. Richard Lawson,, "For a Troubled Nation, The Young Pope Hits Too Close for Comfort," 13 Jan. 2017 Sister Mary, a wily, possibly addled nun/mother figure played with fretful tremble by Diane Keaton.,, "The Young Pope," 13 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tremble.' 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 tremble


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tremble


Middle English, from Anglo-French trembler, from Medieval Latin tremulare, from Latin tremulus tremulous, from tremere to tremble; akin to Greek tremein to tremble

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Statistics for tremble

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tremble

The first known use of tremble was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for tremble



English Language Learners Definition of tremble

: to shake slightly because you are afraid, nervous, excited, etc.

: to shake slightly because of some force

: to be afraid or nervous


trem·​ble | \ˈtrem-bəl \
trembled; trembling

Kids Definition of tremble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to shake without control (as from fear or cold) : shiver

2 : to move, sound, or happen as if shaken My voice trembled. Just at this moment Stuart … felt the whole ship tremble … with the force of the collision.— E. B. White, Stuart Little

3 : to have strong fear or doubt I tremble to think of what might happen.



Kids Definition of tremble (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act or a period of shaking

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More from Merriam-Webster on tremble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tremble

Spanish Central: Translation of tremble

Nglish: Translation of tremble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tremble for Arabic Speakers

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