Language: Old English
Origin: sceacan


1 verb
shake1 S3 W2 past tense shook, past participle shaken


[intransitive and transitive] to move suddenly from side to side or up and down, usually with a lot of force, or to make something or someone do this:
She shook him to wake him up.
Shake the bottle before you open it.
The whole house started to shake.
The car shook as it went over a bump.
shake something out of/off/from something
She shook the sand out of her shoes (=removed it by shaking).


[intransitive] if someone shakes, or part of their body shakes, they make small sudden movements from side to side or up and down, especially because they are very frightened, cold, ill etc [= tremble]:
The little boy's hand was shaking.
shake with fear/laughter/anger etc
I could see my neighbor shaking with laughter.
What's wrong with you? You're shaking like a leaf (=shaking a lot because you are very nervous or frightened).
be shaking in your shoes/boots (=be very nervous)
I was shaking in my shoes - I thought he was going to fire me.

shake your head

to move your head from side to side as a way of saying no, or to show disapproval, surprise, or sadness:
When asked if he wanted anything else, he just shook his head.
Mark shook his head in disbelief.

shake somebody's hand/shake hands with somebody

to move someone's hand up and down with your own hand as a greeting or as a sign you have agreed something:
He shook my hand warmly.
Wilkins shook hands with him.
If we have a deal, let's shake on it (=show that we have made an agreement by shaking hands).


[transitive] to make someone feel very upset or shocked:
Kerrie was so shaken by the attack that she won't go out alone.
The murder shook the whole town.

shake somebody's confidence/beliefs etc

to make someone feel less confident, less sure about their beliefs etc:
His confidence was badly shaken.

somebody's voice shakes

if someone's voice is shaking, it is not steady and they sound very worried, angry, or frightened:
Her voice was shaking as she announced the news.
shake with rage/emotion etc
Reg's voice shook with rage.

shake your fist (at somebody)

to show that you are angry by holding up and shaking your tightly closed hand:
He shook his fist at the driver of the other car.

shake a leg

spoken used to tell someone to hurry, or quickly start doing something:
C'mon, shake a leg!

shake down

phrasal verb

shake somebody ↔ down

American English informal to get money from someone by using threats:
Corrupt officials were shaking down local business owners.

shake somebody/something ↔ down

American English informal to search a person or place thoroughly
3 if a new situation or arrangement shakes down, people start to get used to it and it becomes more effective:
The restructure has shaken down, and staff are showing a new sense of purpose.

shake somebody/something ↔ off

phrasal verb
1 to get rid of an illness, problem etc:
I can't seem to shake off this cold.
shake off your image/reputation as something
Outside investment has helped Sheridan to shake off its image as a depressed industrial town.
2 to escape from someone who is chasing you:
I think we've shaken them off.

shake out

phrasal verb

shake something ↔ out

to shake a cloth, a bag, a sheet etc so that any small pieces of dirt, dust etc come off:
He shook out the handkerchief and put it back in his pocket.
2 if an organization or industry shakes out, it becomes calmer after a difficult period of time:
He'll look for bargains after the real estate market shakes out.

shake something ↔ out

to change a situation by removing things from it that are not useful or that do not make a profit:
As the airline industry shakes out all but the very fittest, catering companies could face serious troubles.

shake somebody/something ↔ up

phrasal verb
1 to give someone a very unpleasant shock, so that they feel very upset and frightened:
She was badly shaken up by the accident.
2 to make changes to an organization in order to make it more effective:
the government's plans to shake up the educational system

shake, wobble, rattle, vibrate, tremble, shiver
Shake is a fairly general word. It can be used to talk about objects moving There was a loud bang and the building shook. It can also be used to talk about people's bodies moving because of cold, strong emotion, or illness Mary shook with rage. If something wobbles, it moves from side to side because it is not steady or balanced The desk wobbles when you put anything on it. If something hard rattles, it shakes and makes a quick series of short sounds The wind blew and the windows rattled. If something vibrates, it makes small quick regular movements that you can hear or feel The engine began to vibrate. If someone trembles, their body shakes with very small movements, especially because they are angry, afraid, or excited Trembling, she approached him. If someone shivers, their body shakes with small movements, especially because they are cold or frightened We sat shivering under a blanket.

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