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[kweyk] /kweɪk/
verb (used without object), quaked, quaking.
(of persons) to shake or tremble from cold, weakness, fear, anger, or the like:
He spoke boldly even though his legs were quaking.
(of things) to shake or tremble, as from shock, internal convulsion, or instability:
The earth suddenly began to quake.
an earthquake.
a trembling or tremulous agitation.
Origin of quake
before 900; Middle English; Old English cwacian to shake, tremble
Related forms
quakingly, adverb
unquaking, adjective
1. shudder. See shiver1 . 2. quiver. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for quaking
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I could see he was quaking for his nuptialities--lest Maria should not be in full beauty.

    The Ladies E. Barrington
  • quaking, reeling, almost falling, she came tottering down the patio.

    The Scapegoat Hall Caine
  • Some of the men leaped over iron palings like startled rabbits and flung themselves in the grass, face downward and quaking.

  • Then the wreckers, hand in hand, quaking and whimpering, stepped out to the mouth of the cave.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • He was coming downstairs with quaking legs; his face was ashen white, and he leaned heavily on the banisters.

  • quaking with undefined fears, he pushed on until he had joined them.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • Feeling a quaking in his stomach, Raoul walked over to the door.

    Shaman Robert Shea
  • Of this Kenneth had now a proof that set him quaking with impatient fear.

    The Tavern Knight Rafael Sabatini
  • The proprietor turned upon him, quaking in a kind of palsy of surprise.

British Dictionary definitions for quaking


unstable or unsafe to walk on, as a bog or quicksand: a quaking bog, quaking sands


verb (intransitive)
to shake or tremble with or as with fear
to convulse or quiver, as from instability
the act or an instance of quaking
(informal) short for earthquake
Word Origin
Old English cwacian; related to Old English cweccan to shake, Old Irish bocaim, German wackeln
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for quaking



Old English cwacian "quake, tremble, chatter (of teeth)," related to cweccan "to shake, swing, move, vibrate," of unknown origin with no certain cognates outside English. Perhaps somehow imitative. In reference to earth tremors, probably by c.1200. Related: Quaked; quaking.


early 14c., "a trembling in fear," from quake (v.). Rare except in combinations. Now usually as a shortening of earthquake, in which use it is attested from 1640s. Old English had the verbal noun cwacung "shaking, trembling."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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