adjective, shak·i·er, shak·i·est.
  1. tending to shake or tremble.
  2. trembling; tremulous.
  3. liable to break down or give way; insecure; not to be depended upon: a shaky bridge.
  4. wavering, as in allegiance: His loyalty, always shaky, was now nonexistent.

Origin of shaky

First recorded in 1695–1705; shake + -y1
Related formsshak·i·ly, adverbshak·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shakily

Historical Examples of shakily

  • "The—ship that was on Orede came in during the night," Maril told him shakily.

    Pariah Planet

    Murray Leinster

  • He sat up and shakily ran a hand through his wet hair as he spoke.

    The Woman-Haters

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • "I can't see the upper sails, sir," declared Gambril shakily.

    The Shadow-Line

    Joseph Conrad

  • He fumbled in his pocket for a cigarette and shakily lighted it.

  • Shakily, he removed his headband and snapped the playback off.


    Everett B. Cole

British Dictionary definitions for shakily


adjective shakier or shakiest
  1. tending to shake or tremble
  2. liable to prove defective; unreliable
  3. uncertain or questionableyour arguments are very shaky
Derived Formsshakily, adverbshakiness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for shakily



1840, of handwriting; 1841 of persons, horses, and credit; 1850 of structures; from shake (v.) + -y (2). General sense of "uncertain, of questionable integrity" is from 1834. Earliest of trees or logs, "split, having fissures" (1808). Related: Shakily; shakiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper