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[trem-buh l] /ˈtrɛm bəl/
verb (used without object), trembled, trembling.
to shake involuntarily with quick, short movements, as from fear, excitement, weakness, or cold; quake; quiver.
to be troubled with fear or apprehension.
(of things) to be affected with vibratory motion.
to be tremulous, as light or sound:
His voice trembled.
the act of trembling.
a state or fit of trembling.
trembles, (used with a singular verb)
  1. Pathology. milk sickness.
  2. Veterinary Pathology. a toxic condition of cattle and sheep caused by the eating of white snakeroot and characterized by muscular tremors.
Origin of tremble
1275-1325; Middle English trem(b)len (v.) < Old French trembler < Vulgar Latin *tremulāre, derivative of Latin tremulus tremulous
Related forms
tremblingly, adverb
untrembling, adjective
untremblingly, adverb
1. shudder. See shake. 3. oscillate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for trembles
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mrs. Talbot trembles slightly, and blushes a good deal, but says nothing.

    The Haunted Chamber "The Duchess"
  • I guess the trembles in my head must have got into my fingers when I did it.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Hearing himself thus made light of Ephialtes trembles with anger, like a tower rocking in an earthquake.

  • It is when the soul rises to "here and now" that he trembles.

    Parables of the Cross I. Lilias Trotter
  • Oh, it ain't nothing, dearie; just a bit of the trembles, and to prove to old Hannah that she is getting on in years.

    The Palace Beautiful L. T. Meade
  • He trembles at the responsibility which he has incurred by engaging the feelings of another.

    The Young Duke Benjamin Disraeli
  • This from your brother who trembles for Zion, and for the wrath of heaven, which awaits her if she repent not.

British Dictionary definitions for trembles


noun (functioning as sing)
Also called milk sickness. a disease of cattle and sheep characterized by muscular incoordination and tremor, caused by ingestion of white snakeroot or rayless goldenrod
a nontechnical name for Parkinson's disease


verb (intransitive)
to vibrate with short slight movements; quiver
to shake involuntarily, as with cold or fear; shiver
to experience fear or anxiety
the act or an instance of trembling
Derived Forms
trembling, adjective
tremblingly, adverb
trembly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French trembler, from Medieval Latin tremulāre, from Latin tremulus quivering, from tremere to quake
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 trembles



c.1300, "shake from fear, cold, etc.," from Old French trembler "tremble, fear" (11c.), from Vulgar Latin *tremulare (source of Italian tremolare, Spanish temblar), from Latin tremulus "trembling, tremulous," from tremere "to tremble, shiver, quake," from PIE *trem- "to tremble" (cf. Greek tremein "to shiver, tremble," Lithuanian trimu "to chase away," Old Church Slavonic treso "to shake," Gothic þramstei "grasshopper"). A native word for this was Old English bifian. Related: Trembled; trembling. The noun is recorded from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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