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noun, plural shim·mies.
  1. an American ragtime dance marked by shaking of the hips and shoulders.
  2. excessive wobbling in the front wheels of a motor vehicle.
  3. a chemise.
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verb (used without object), shim·mied, shim·my·ing.
  1. to dance the shimmy.
  2. to shake, wobble, or vibrate.
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Origin of shimmy

1830–40, for def 3; 1915–20 for def 1; back formation and respelling of chemise, construed as a plural
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shimmy

wobble, dance, vibrate

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Contemporary Examples of shimmy

Historical Examples of shimmy

British Dictionary definitions for shimmy


noun plural -mies
  1. an American ragtime dance with much shaking of the hips and shoulders
  2. abnormal wobbling motion in a motor vehicle, esp in the front wheels or steering
  3. an informal word for chemise
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verb -mies, -mying or -mied (intr)
  1. to dance the shimmy
  2. to vibrate or wobble
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Word Origin for shimmy

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper