Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

shake - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     shake pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleshaking
past tenseshook
past participleshaken
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to make many quick small movements up and down, or side to side
    1. a.
      [intransitive] if you shake, your body makes many small quick movements that you cannot control, usually because you are cold, or because you are feeling a very strong emotion
      shake with fear/laughter etc.:

      She was literally shaking with fear.

    2. b.
      [transitive] to move something quickly up and down or side to side

      An earthquake shook a wide area of southern Italy last year.

      Shake the dressing well before you put it on the salad.

    3. c.
      [transitive] to hold someone and move them quickly in order to get their attention, or to wake them

      “You’re not listening!” she cried, shaking him.

  2. 2



    shake off

    [transitive] to get rid of something bad such as a problem, illness, or fear

    She couldn’t shake her fear of snakes.

  3. 3
    [intransitive] if your voice shakes, it sounds weak, nervous, or emotional

    His voice shook as he asked her to marry him.

  4. 5
    [transitive] to frighten someone, or to cause them to feel strong emotions

    He was shaken and upset by the accident.

  5. 6



    shake off

    [transitive] to escape from someone who is following or chasing you

    They ran into the alley, hoping to shake their pursuers.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play