from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cause to move to and fro with jerky movements.
  • transitive v. To cause to quiver, tremble, vibrate, or rock.
  • transitive v. To cause to lose stability or waver: a crisis that shook my deepest beliefs.
  • transitive v. To remove or dislodge by jerky movements: shook the dust from the cushions.
  • transitive v. To bring to a specified condition by or as if by shaking: "It is not easy to shake one's heart free of the impression” ( John Middleton Murry).
  • transitive v. Slang To get rid of: couldn't shake the man who was following us.
  • transitive v. To disturb or agitate; unnerve: She was shaken by the news of the disaster.
  • transitive v. To brandish or wave, especially in anger: shake one's fist.
  • transitive v. To clasp (hands) in greeting or leave-taking or as a sign of agreement.
  • transitive v. Music To trill (a note).
  • transitive v. Games To rattle and mix (dice) before casting.
  • intransitive v. To move to and fro in short, irregular, often jerky movements.
  • intransitive v. To tremble, as from cold or in anger.
  • intransitive v. To be unsteady; totter or waver.
  • intransitive v. To move something vigorously up and down or from side to side, as in mixing.
  • intransitive v. Music To trill.
  • intransitive v. To shake hands: Let's shake on it.
  • n. The act of shaking.
  • n. A trembling or quivering movement.
  • n. Informal An earthquake.
  • n. A fissure in rock.
  • n. A crack in timber caused by wind or frost.
  • n. Informal A moment or instant; a trice: I'll do it in a shake.
  • n. Music A trill.
  • n. See milk shake.
  • n. A beverage in which the ingredients are mixed by shaking.
  • n. A rough shingle used to cover rustic buildings, such as barns: cedar shakes.
  • n. Informal Uncontrollable trembling, as in a person who is cold, frightened, feverish, or ill. Often used with the: was suffering from a bad case of the shakes.
  • n. Slang A bargain or deal: getting a fair shake.
  • shake down Slang To extort money from.
  • shake down Slang To make a thorough search of: shook down the prisoners' cells for hidden weapons.
  • shake down To subject (a new ship or aircraft) to shakedown testing.
  • shake down To become acclimated or accustomed, as to a new environment or a new job.
  • shake off To free oneself of; get rid of: We shook off our fears.
  • shake up To upset by or as if by a physical jolt or shock: was badly shaken up by the accident.
  • shake up To subject to a drastic rearrangement or reorganization: new management bent on shaking up the company.
  • idiom give (someone) the shake Slang To escape from or get rid of: We managed to give our pursuers the shake.
  • idiom no great shakes Slang Unexceptional; ordinary: "stepping in between the victim and the bully, even when the victim happens to be no great shakes” ( Louis Auchincloss).
  • idiom shake a leg Informal To dance.
  • idiom shake a leg Informal To move quickly; hurry up.
  • idiom shake (another's) tree Slang To arouse to action or reaction; disturb: "[He] so shook Hollywood's tree that . . . all manner of . . . people called me unsolicited to itemize his mistakes or praise his courage” ( Tina Brown).
  • idiom shake a stick at Slang To point out, designate, or name: "All of a sudden there came into being a vast conservative infrastructure: think-tanks . . . and more foundations than you could shake a stick at” ( National Review).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To cause (something) to move rapidly in opposite directions alternatingly.
  • v. To move (one's head) from side to side, especially to indicate a negative.
  • v. To disturb emotionally; to shock.
  • v. To lose, evade, or get rid of (something).
  • v. To move from side to side.
  • v. To shake hands.
  • v. To dance.
  • n. The act of shaking something.
  • n. A milkshake.
  • n. A beverage made by adding ice cream to a (usually carbonated) drink; a float.
  • n. Shake cannabis, small, leafy fragments of cannabis that gather at the bottom of a bag of marijuana.
  • n. A thin shingle.
  • n. A crack or split between the growth rings in wood.
  • n. Instant, second. (Esp. in two shakes.)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • obs. p. p. of shake.
  • n. The act or result of shaking; a vacillating or wavering motion; a rapid motion one way and other; a trembling, quaking, or shivering; agitation.
  • n. A fissure or crack in timber, caused by its being dried too suddenly.
  • n. A fissure in rock or earth.
  • n. A rapid alternation of a principal tone with another represented on the next degree of the staff above or below it; a trill.
  • n. One of the staves of a hogshead or barrel taken apart.
  • n. A shook of staves and headings.
  • n. The redshank; -- so called from the nodding of its head while on the ground.
  • intransitive v. To be agitated with a waving or vibratory motion; to tremble; to shiver; to quake; to totter.
  • transitive v. To cause to move with quick or violent vibrations; to move rapidly one way and the other; to make to tremble or shiver; to agitate.
  • transitive v. Fig.: To move from firmness; to weaken the stability of; to cause to waver; to impair the resolution of.
  • transitive v. To give a tremulous tone to; to trill.
  • transitive v. To move or remove by agitating; to throw off by a jolting or vibrating motion; to rid one's self of; -- generally with an adverb, as off, out, etc..

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cause to move with quick vibrations; move or sway with a rapid jolting, jerking, or vibratory motion; cause to tremble, quiver, or shiver; agitate: as, to shake a carpet; the wind shakes the trees; the explosion shook the house: to shake one's fist at another; to shake one's head as in displeasure or negation.
  • To loosen, unfasten, remove, throw off or aside, expel, dispel, or get rid of, by a jolting, jerking, or abrupt vibrating action or motion, or by rough or vigorous measures: generally with away, down, off, out, up, etc.: as, to shake off drowsiness; to shake out a reef in a sail; also, in colloquial use, absolutely: as, to shake a bore.
  • To weaken or impair in any respect; make less firm, sure, certain, solid, stable, or courageous; impair the standing, force, or character of; cause to waver or doubt: as, a searching cross-examination failed to shake the testimony of the witness.
  • To agitate or disturb; rouse: sometimes with up.
  • To give a tremulous sound to; trill: as, to shake a note in music.
  • To steal.
  • To come to an agreement; agree fully: as, to shake hands over a bargain.
  • To shake or jar thoroughly or in such a way as to damage or impair; shock: us, he was badly shaken up in the collision.
  • To upbraid; berate.
  • To be agitated with a waving or vibratory motion; tremble; shiver; quake: as, a tree shakes with the wind; the house shook in the tempest.
  • To fall; jump.
  • To go quickly; hasten.
  • In music, to use shakes or trills; perform a shake or trill; trill.
  • To steal.
  • To shake hands: usually in the imperative: as, shake, stranger.
  • Synonyms Swing, Roll, etc. See rock.
  • n. A rapid jolt or jerk one way and then the other; an abrupt wavering or vibrating motion: as, give it a shake; a shake of the head.
  • n. A shock or concussion; especially, a shock that disarranges or impairs; rude or violent attack or treatment.
  • n. A tremor; a quaver; a shiver.
  • n. A trembling-fit; a chill; specifically, in the plural and with the definite article, the shakes, ague; intermittent fever; also, delirium tremens.
  • n. In music, a melodic embellishment consisting of the rapid alternation of a principal tone with a tone one degree above it; a trill: indicated by the mark transitive, with or without the sign .
  • n. A brief moment; an instant: as, to do a thing in a couple or brace of shakes, or in the shake of a lamb's tail (that is, to do it immediately).
  • n. A crack or fissure in timber, produced during growth by strain of wind, sudden changes of temperature, or causes not well determined, or formed during seasoning.
  • n. A fissure in the earth.
  • n. A long shingle or stave: same as clapboard, 2.
  • n. In printing,a blurred or doubled print made by a shaking or moving of the sheet under impression.
  • n. The redshank, Totanus calidris: so called from its constant nodding or bobbing of the body. See cut under redshank.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. causing to move repeatedly from side to side
  • n. grasping and shaking a person's hand (as to acknowledge an introduction or to agree on a contract)
  • v. get rid of
  • n. frothy drink of milk and flavoring and sometimes fruit or ice cream
  • v. move with or as if with a tremor
  • v. move or cause to move back and forth
  • v. stir the feelings, emotions, or peace of
  • v. shake (a body part) to communicate a greeting, feeling, or cognitive state
  • n. building material used as siding or roofing
  • n. a note that alternates rapidly with another note a semitone above it
  • v. shake or vibrate rapidly and intensively
  • v. move back and forth or sideways
  • n. a reflex motion caused by cold or fear or excitement
  • v. bring to a specified condition by or as if by shaking
  • v. undermine or cause to waver


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English schaken, from Old English sceacan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Germanic origin, Old English scacan. Cf. Swedish skaka.



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  • In nuclear engineering and astrophysics contexts, one shake (from "two shakes of a lamb's tail") equals 10 nanoseconds.

    November 7, 2007

  • Cedar shakes look similar to cedar shingles; however, the shakes are split rather than sawn.

    August 1, 2007