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[shim-ee] /ˈʃɪm i/
noun, plural shimmies.
an American ragtime dance marked by shaking of the hips and shoulders.
excessive wobbling in the front wheels of a motor vehicle.
a chemise.
verb (used without object), shimmied, shimmying.
to dance the shimmy.
to shake, wobble, or vibrate.
Origin of shimmy
1830-40, for def 3; 1915-20 for def 1; back formation and respelling of chemise, construed as a plural Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for shimmy
  • Shake, shimmy and jiggle until the mixture hardens to ice cream, usually about five minutes.
  • He flattens his ears and swings his head, shimmy-shakes and shadowboxes.
  • In other words, if your goal in life is to impress auto aficionados, then you best shimmy into that space yourself.
  • But all of them are made to shimmy uncomfortably into the narrow serpent's body of contempt.
  • Four hip rockers shimmy across moving surfaces in a grainy home video.
  • The café has four different rooms, three of which require guests to kneel down and shimmy through tiny corridors.
  • They crawl up rope ladders, shimmy through tunnels and slip down the slide.
  • The theory of shimmy damping is investigated including tire friction, spindle bearing friction, and hydraulic damping.
  • Variations will also cause wheel shimmy and difficulty steering through curves.
  • After reports of nosewheel shimmy, an inspection revealed a number of loose or missing balance patches caused by adhesive failure.
British Dictionary definitions for shimmy


noun (pl) -mies
an American ragtime dance with much shaking of the hips and shoulders
abnormal wobbling motion in a motor vehicle, esp in the front wheels or steering
an informal word for chemise
verb (intransitive) -mies, -mying, -mied
to dance the shimmy
to vibrate or wobble
Word Origin
C19: changed from chemise, mistakenly assumed to be plural
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 shimmy

"do a suggestive dance," 1918, perhaps via phrase shake the shimmy, which is possibly from shimmy (n.), a U.S. dialectal form of chemise (mistaken as a plural; cf. shammy) first recorded 1837. Or perhaps the verb is related to shimmer (v.) via a notion of glistening light. Transferred sense of "vibration of a motor vehicle" is from 1925. Related: Shimmied; shimmying. As a noun, the name of a popular, fast, suggestive pre-flapper dance, by 1919.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shimmy



A person not appreciative of rock and roll; clyde (1950s+ Rock and roll)

shimmy 1


(also shimmy shirt) A woman's chemise: to persuade the young matron to doff her wet shimmy

[1837+; fr chemise]

shimmy 2

  1. A very energetic vibrational dance and dancing style
  2. A flick or flirting of the buttocks: She calls to the owner, with a little shimmy

: I wish that I could shimmy like my sister Kate (1918+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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