Nearby words

  1. shairp,
  2. shaitan,
  3. shaiva,
  4. shak.,
  5. shaka,
  6. shake a leg,
  7. shake a stick at,
  8. shake down,
  9. shake hands,
  10. shake in one's boots


Origin of shake

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

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.

Related forms
Can be confusedshake sheik (see synonym study at the current entry)


[shoo k]


simple past tense of shake.
Nonstandard. a past participle of shake.


Also shook up. Slang. strongly affected by an event, circumstance, etc.; emotionally unsettled: She was so shook she couldn't speak. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for shook up




(in timber working) a set of parts ready for assembly, esp of a barrel
a group of sheaves piled together on end; shock

Word Origin for shook

C18: of unknown origin




the past tense of shake


Australian and NZ informal keen on; enthusiastic about


verb shakes, shaking, shook or shaken (ˈʃeɪkən)

to move or cause to move up and down or back and forth with short quick movements; vibrate
to sway or totter or cause to sway or totter
to clasp or grasp (the hand) of (a person) in greeting, agreement, etche shook John by the hand; he shook John's hand; they shook and were friends
shake hands to clasp hands in greeting, agreement, etc
shake on it informal to shake hands in agreement, reconciliation, etc
to bring or come to a specified condition by or as if by shakinghe shook free and ran
(tr) to wave or brandishhe shook his sword
(tr often foll by up) to rouse, stir, or agitate
(tr) to shock, disturb, or upsethe was shaken by the news of her death
(tr) to undermine or weakenthe crisis shook his faith
to mix (dice) by rattling in a cup or the hand before throwing
(tr) Australian archaic, slang to steal
(tr) US and Canadian informal to escape fromcan you shake that detective?
music to perform a trill on (a note)
(tr) US informal to fare or progress; happen as specifiedhow's it shaking?
shake a leg informal to hurry: usually used in the imperative
shake in one's shoes to tremble with fear or apprehension
shake one's head to indicate disagreement or disapproval by moving the head from side to side
shake the dust from one's feet to depart gladly or with the intention not to return


the act or an instance of shaking
a tremor or vibration
the shakes informal a state of uncontrollable trembling or a condition that causes it, such as a fever
informal a very short period of time; jiffyin half a shake
a shingle or clapboard made from a short log by splitting it radially
a fissure or crack in timber or rock
an instance of shaking dice before casting
music another word for trill 1 (def. 1)
a dance, popular in the 1960s, in which the body is shaken convulsively in time to the beat
an informal name for earthquake
short for milk shake
no great shakes informal of no great merit or value; ordinary

Derived Formsshakable or shakeable, adjective

Word Origin for shake

Old English sceacan; related to Old Norse skaka to shake, Old High German untscachōn to be driven

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 shook up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shook up

shook up

see all shook up.


In addition to the idioms beginning with shake

  • shake a leg
  • shake a stick at
  • shake down
  • shake hands
  • shake in one's boots
  • shake off
  • shake one's head
  • shake someone's tree
  • shake the dust from one's feet
  • shake up
  • shake with laughter

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® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.