Meaning of “shake” in the English Dictionary

"shake" in English

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uk /ʃeɪk/ us /ʃeɪk/ shook, shaken

shake verb (MOVE)

B1 [ I or T ] to move backwards and forwards or up and down in quick, short movements, or to make something or someone do this:

A young boy climbed into the apple tree and shook the branches so that the fruit fell down.
Babies like toys that make a noise when they're shaken.
The explosion shook buildings for miles around.
[ + obj + adj ] People in southern California were shaken awake by an earthquake.
She shook her hair loose from its ribbon.
Anna shook some powdered chocolate over her coffee.
Every time one of these big trucks goes by, all the houses shake.
The child's body was shaking with sobs.

B2 [ I ] If you are shaking, your body makes quick short movements, or you feel as if it is doing so, because you are frightened or nervous:

She was shaking as she opened the letter.
I was shaking in my shoes/boots (= very nervous) about having to tell Dad what I'd done.
I was shaking like a leaf (= very nervous) before the test.

C2 [ I ] If your voice shakes, it makes you sound nervous or frightened:

Her voice shook as she talked about the person who attacked her.
shake sb's hand/shake sb by the hand

B1 to hold someone's hand and move it up and down, especially when you meet them for the first time or when you make an agreement with them:

"Pleased to meet you," he said, shaking my hand.
"Congratulations," she said, shaking the winner by the hand.
shake hands

If two people shake hands, they greet each other or say goodbye by briefly joining hands and moving them slightly up and down:

The Princess was photographed shaking hands with AIDS victims.
shake (hands) on sth

If two people shake (hands) on something, they make an agreement by briefly joining hands and moving them slightly up and down:

It seems that we have a deal, so let's shake (hands) on it.
shake your head

B2 to move your head from side to side, in order to express disagreement, sadness, or that you do not want or believe something:

I asked Tim if he'd seen Jackie lately but he shook his head.
"That's incredible!" he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
shake your fist

to hold your hand up in the air with your fingers and thumb bent, and move it forcefully backwards and forwards, to show that you are angry:

He shook his fist at the driver who pulled out in front of him.

More examples


uk /ʃeɪk/ us /ʃeɪk/

[ C ] an act of shaking something:

She gave the box a shake to see if there was anything inside it.
"No, no, no," he said with a shake of his head.
the shakes [ plural ] informal

short, quick movements from side to side that your body makes because you are ill, are frightened, or have drunk too much alcohol:

I watched her hands as she prepared coffee and she definitely had the shakes.

[ C ] informal a milkshake

(Definition of “shake” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"shake" in American English

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us /ʃeɪk/ past tense shook /ʃʊk/ , past participle shaken /ˈʃeɪ·kən/

shake verb (MOVE)

[ I/T ] to move something backward and forward or up and down in quick, short movements:

[ T ] Shake the can.
[ T ] She shook Dana gently.
[ T ] Cory shook some powdered sugar on her French toast.
[ I ] The explosion made the ground shake.
[ M ] Lily shook her long hair out (= moved her hair to make it fall loosely around her shoulders).
[ M ] She shook out the tablecloth (= shook it so anything on it fell off).

[ I/T ] If you or part of your body shakes, you make quick, short movements, or you feel as if you are doing this, because you are cold, frightened, or upset:

[ I ] She was soaking wet and shaking when she when she finally got home.
[ I ] Her hands shook as she opened the letter.

[ I/T ] If someone’s voice shakes, its sound frequently changes because of fear or other emotions.

shake your fist

If you shake your fist, you hold your hand up with your fingers and thumb closed and move it backward and forward to show you are angry:

They stood at the gate, shaking their fists and shouting.
shake hands

If two people shake hands, they greet or say goodbye by briefly joining hands and moving them slightly up and down:

We shook hands and left.
shake your head

If you shake your head, you move it from side to side to say "no" or show disagreement, sympathy, sadness, or that you do not believe something:

Frank shook his head in disbelief.
My dad shook his head, "No, you can't go."

shake verb (UPSET)

[ T ] to cause someone to feel upset and troubled:

Juanita was shaken and tried not to cry.
The instructor was shaken by the angry e-mails she received.

shake verb (WEAKEN)

[ T ] to make someone’s beliefs less certain or strong; to weaken:

Nothing shook her conviction that there was no substitute for hard work.
The defense failed to shake Powell’s testimony.

shake verb (GET RID OF)

[ T ] to get rid of something, or escape from something:

He couldn’t shake the feeling that Tony had another motive.
I’ve had this cold all week and just can’t seem to shake it.

shakenoun [ C ]

us /ʃeɪk/

shake noun [ C ] (MOVEMENT)

the act of moving something backward and forward or up and down in quick, short movements:

Give the bottle a shake.
Maria answered no with a shake of her head.

infml A shake is a milkshake.

the shakes infml

The shakes is a condition in which most or all of your body moves slightly from cold, fear, or illness:

Just thinking about the upcoming interview gave him the shakes.

(Definition of “shake” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"shake" in Business English

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shakeverb [ T ]

uk /ʃeɪk/ us

if something shakes someone's beliefs, hopes, etc., it destroys these feelings or makes them weaker:

Shareholders' hopes of a quick profit have been badly shaken by recent events.
shake hands

to hold someone's hand with one of your hands and move it up and down to greet someone or show that an agreement has been reached:

shake hands with sb He waited in the lobby to shake hands with prospective customers.
After signing the contract both sides shook hands.
shake hands on sth

to reach an agreement about something:

After months of negotiation they finally shook hands on the deal.

(Definition of “shake” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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