verb (used without object), shook, shaken, shaking.
to move or sway with short, quick, irregular vibratory movements.
to tremble with emotion, cold, etc.
to become dislodged and fall (usually followed by off or down ): Sand shakes off easily.
to move something, or its support or container, briskly to and fro or up and down, as in mixing: Shake before using.
to totter; become unsteady.
to clasp another's hand in greeting, agreement, congratulations, etc.: Let's shake and be friends again.
Music. to execute a trill.
verb (used with object), shook, shaken, shaking.
to move (something or its support or container) to and fro or up and down with short, quick, forcible movements: to shake a bottle of milk.
to brandish or flourish: to shake a stick at someone.
to grasp (someone or something) firmly in an attempt to move or rouse by, or as by, vigorous movement to and fro: We shook the tree.
to dislodge or dispense (something) by short, quick, forcible movements of its support or container: We shook nuts from the tree.
to cause to sway, rock, totter, etc.: to shake the very foundations of society.
to agitate or disturb profoundly in feeling: The experience shook him badly.
to cause to doubt or waver; weaken. to shake one's self-esteem.
Music. to trill (a note).
to mix (dice) by rolling in the palm of the hand before they are cast.
to get rid of; elude: They tried to shake their pursuers.
an act or instance of shaking, rocking, swaying, etc.
tremulous motion.
a tremor.
shakes, (used with a singular verb) Informal. a state or spell of trembling, as caused by fear, fever, cold, etc. (usually preceded by the ).
a disturbing blow; shock.
Informal. milk shake.
the act or a manner of clasping another's hand in greeting, agreement, etc.: He has a strong shake.
Informal. chance or fate; deal: a fair shake.
a cast of the dice: He threw an eight on his last shake.
something resulting from shaking.
an earthquake.
a fissure in the earth.
an internal crack or fissure in timber.
Music. trill1 ( def 9 ).
an instant: I'll be with you in a shake.
Carpentry. a shingle or clapboard formed by splitting a short log into a number of tapered radial sections with a hatchet.
Horology. (in an escapement) the distance between the nearer corner of one pallet and the nearest tooth of the escape wheel when the other pallet arrests an escape tooth.
Chiefly South Midland U.S. shaker ( def 2 ).
a dance deriving from the twist.
Slang. the dried leaves of the marijuana plant.
Verb phrases
shake down,
to cause to descend by shaking; bring down.
to cause to settle.
to condition; test: to shake down a ship.
Informal. to extort money from.
Slang. to search (someone), especially to detect concealed weapons.
shake off,
to rid oneself of; reject.
to get away from; leave behind.
Baseball, Softball. (of a pitcher) to indicate rejection of (a sign by the catcher for a certain pitch) by shaking the head or motioning with the glove.
shake up,
to shake in order to mix or loosen.
to upset; jar.
to agitate mentally or physically: The threat of attack has shaken up the entire country.
no great shakes, Informal. of no particular ability; unimportant; common: As opera companies go, this one is no great shakes.
shake a leg, Informal.
to hurry up; get a move on: You'd better shake a leg or we'll miss the first act.
to dance.
shake hands. hand ( def 77 ).
shake one's head,
to indicate disapproval, disagreement, negation, or uncertainty by turning one's head from one side to the other and back: I asked him if he knew the answer, but he just shook his head.
to indicate approval, agreement, affirmation or acceptance by nodding one's head up and down.
shake the dust from one's feet. dust ( def 25 ).
two shakes (of a lamb's tail), a very short time; a moment.

before 900; (v.) Middle English s(c)haken, Old English sceacan; cognate with Low German schacken, Old Norse skaka; (noun) derivative of the v.

shakable, shakeable, adjective
reshake, verb, reshook, reshaken, reshaking.
unshakable, adjective
unshakablely, adverb
unshakeable, adjective
unshakeablely, adverb
unshaken, adjective
well-shaken, adjective

shake, sheik (see synonym study at the current entry).

1. oscillate, waver. Shake, quiver, tremble, vibrate refer to an agitated movement that, in living things, is often involuntary. To shake is to agitate more or less quickly, abruptly, and often unevenly so as to disturb the poise, stability, or equilibrium of a person or thing: a pole shaking under his weight. To quiver is to exhibit a slight vibratory motion such as that resulting from disturbed or irregular (surface) tension: The surface of the pool quivered in the breeze. To tremble (used more often of a person) is to be agitated by intermittent, involuntary movements of the muscles, much like shivering and caused by fear, cold, weakness, great emotion, etc.: Even stout hearts tremble with dismay. To vibrate is to exhibit a rapid, rhythmical motion: A violin string vibrates when a bow is drawn across it. 2. shudder, shiver. 14. daunt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source Link To shake
World English Dictionary
shake (ʃeɪk)
vb (often foll by up) , shakes, shaking, shook, shaken
1.  to move or cause to move up and down or back and forth with short quick movements; vibrate
2.  to sway or totter or cause to sway or totter
3.  to clasp or grasp (the hand) of (a person) in greeting, agreement, etc: he shook John by the hand; he shook John's hand; they shook and were friends
4.  shake hands to clasp hands in greeting, agreement, etc
5.  informal shake on it to shake hands in agreement, reconciliation, etc
6.  to bring or come to a specified condition by or as if by shaking: he shook free and ran
7.  (tr) to wave or brandish: he shook his sword
8.  to rouse, stir, or agitate
9.  (tr) to shock, disturb, or upset: he was shaken by the news of her death
10.  (tr) to undermine or weaken: the crisis shook his faith
11.  to mix (dice) by rattling in a cup or the hand before throwing
12.  archaic, slang (Austral) (tr) to steal
13.  informal (US), (Canadian) (tr) to escape from: can you shake that detective?
14.  music to perform a trill on (a note)
15.  informal (US) (tr) to fare or progress; happen as specified: how's it shaking?
16.  informal shake a leg to hurry: usually used in the imperative
17.  shake in one's shoes to tremble with fear or apprehension
18.  shake one's head to indicate disagreement or disapproval by moving the head from side to side
19.  shake the dust from one's feet to depart gladly or with the intention not to return
20.  the act or an instance of shaking
21.  a tremor or vibration
22.  informal the shakes a state of uncontrollable trembling or a condition that causes it, such as a fever
23.  informal a very short period of time; jiffy: in half a shake
24.  a shingle or clapboard made from a short log by splitting it radially
25.  a fissure or crack in timber or rock
26.  an instance of shaking dice before casting
27.  music another word for trill
28.  a dance, popular in the 1960s, in which the body is shaken convulsively in time to the beat
29.  an informal name for earthquake
30.  short for milk shake
31.  informal no great shakes of no great merit or value; ordinary
[Old English sceacan; related to Old Norse skaka to shake, Old High German untscachōn to be driven]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. sceacan "to vibrate, make vibrate, move away" (class VI strong verb; past tense scoc, pp. scacen), from P.Gmc. *skakanan (cf. O.N., Swed. skaka, Dan. skage "to shift, turn, veer"). No certain cognates outside Gmc., but some suggest a possible connection to Skt. khaj "to agitate, churn, stir about,"
O.C.S. skoku "a leap, bound," Welsh ysgogi "move," and ult. to PIE *(s)keg-. To shake hands dates from 1535. Shaky "insecure, unreliable" (of credit, etc.) is from 1841. Shake a leg "hurry up" first recorded 1904; shake a heel (sometimes foot) was an old way to say "to dance" (1667). Phrase more _____ than you can shake a stick at is attested from 1818, Amer.Eng. To shake (one's) head as a sign of disapproval is recorded from c.1300. Shaken, of persons, "weakened and agitated by shocks" is from 1641.

c.1380, from shake (v.). As a type of instantaneous action, it is recorded from 1816. Phrase fair shake "honest deal" is attested from 1830, Amer.Eng. The shakes "nervous agitation" is from 1624. Shakeout "business upheaval" is from 1895; shake-up "reorganization" is from
1899. Dismissive phrase no great shakes (1816) perhaps is from dicing.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with shake, also see all shook (shaken) up; fair shake; in two shakes; more than one can shake a stick at; movers and shakers; no great shakes; quake (shake) in one's boots.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Fidel's hand does not tremble, his voice does not shake, his gaze is as firm and soaring as ever.
Certain words can shake the blogosphere in much the same way earthquakes stir
  the planet.
The government's mission to shake up education has been a political struggle.
With each new incident of record monsoon floods, fires and earthquakes, more
  tremors shake the global economy.
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