no great shakes, Informal. of no particular ability; unimportant; common: As opera companies go, this one is no great shakes.
    shake a leg, Informal.
    1. to hurry up; get a move on: You'd better shake a leg or we'll miss the first act.
    2. to dance.
    shake hands. hand(def 79).
    shake one's head,
    1. 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.
    2. to indicate approval, agreement, affirmation or acceptance by nodding one's head up and down.
    shake the dust from one's feet. dust(def 26).
    two shakes (of a lamb's tail), a very short time; a moment.

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.
Related formsshak·a·ble, shake·a·ble, adjectivere·shake, verb, re·shook, re·shak·en, re·shak·ing.un·shak·a·ble, adjectiveun·shak·a·ble·ly, adverbun·shake·a·ble, adjectiveun·shake·a·ble·ly, adverbun·sha·ken, adjectivewell-shak·en, adjective
Can be confusedshake sheik (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for shake

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unshakable

Contemporary Examples of unshakable

Historical Examples of unshakable

  • And in his mild blue eye there was a look of unshakable determination.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Our determination is unshakable since that is the only way to end the war.

  • Already coached, they were sure and unshakable in their knowledge of that.

    The Paliser case

    Edgar Saltus

  • Don't try to argue; the evidence is unshakable on this point.

    Evening Round Up

    William Crosbie Hunter

  • Perhaps that is why this rag-bag of an Italian woman has such an unshakable admiration for him.

    The Nabob

    Alphonse Daudet

British Dictionary definitions for unshakable




(of beliefs, convictions, etc) utterly firm and unwavering
Derived Formsunshakableness or unshakeableness, noununshakably or unshakeably, adverb


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 unshakable

1610s; see un- (1) "not" + shake (v.) + -able. Of beliefs, etc., from 1670s.



Old English sceacan "move (something) quickly to and fro, brandish; move the body or a part of it rapidly back and forth;" also "go, glide, hasten, flee, depart" (cf. sceacdom "flight"); of persons or parts of the body, "to tremble" especially from fever, cold, fear" (class VI strong verb; past tense scoc, past participle scacen), from Proto-Germanic *skakanan (cf. Old Norse, Swedish skaka, Danish skage "to shift, turn, veer"). No certain cognates outside Germanic, but some suggest a possible connection to Sanskrit khaj "to agitate, churn, stir about," Old Church Slavonic skoku "a leap, bound," Welsh ysgogi "move."

Of the earth in earthquakes, c.1300. Meaning "seize and shake (someone or something else)" is from early 14c. In reference to mixing ingredients, etc., by shaking a container from late 14c. Meaning "to rid oneself of by abrupt twists" is from c.1200, also in Middle English in reference to evading responsibility, etc. Meaning "weaken, impair" is from late 14c., on notion of "make unstable."

To shake hands dates from 1530s. Shake a (loose) leg "hurry up" first recorded 1904; shake a heel (sometimes foot) was an old way to say "to dance" (1660s); to shake (one's) elbow (1620s) meant "to gamble at dice." Phrase more _____ than you can shake a stick at is attested from 1818, American English. To shake (one's) head as a sign of disapproval is recorded from c.1300.



late 14c., "charge, onrush," from shake (v.). Meaning "a hard shock" is from 1560s. From 1580s as "act of shaking;" 1660s as "irregular vibration." The hand-grip salutation so called by 1712. As a figure of instantaneous action, it is recorded from 1816. Phrase fair shake "honest deal" is attested from 1830, American English. The shakes "nervous agitation" is from 1620s. Short for milk shake from 1911. Dismissive phrase no great shakes (1816, Byron) perhaps is from dicing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with unshakable


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.