shake one's head

shake one's head

verb (used without object), shook, shak·en, shak·ing.

  1. to move or sway with short, quick, irregular vibratory movements.
  2. to tremble with emotion, cold, etc.
  3. to become dislodged and fall (usually followed by off or down): Sand shakes off easily.
  4. to move something, or its support or container, briskly to and fro or up and down, as in mixing: Shake before using.
  5. to totter; become unsteady.
  6. to clasp another’s hand in greeting, agreement, congratulations, etc.: Let’s shake and be friends again.
  7. Music. to execute a trill.

verb (used with object), shook, shak·en, shak·ing.

  1. to move (something or its support or container) to and fro or up and down with short, quick, forcible movements: to shake a bottle of milk.
  2. to brandish or flourish: to shake a stick at someone.
  3. to grasp (someone or something) firmly in an attempt to move or rouse by, or as by, vigorous movement to and fro: We shook the tree.
  4. to dislodge or dispense (something) by short, quick, forcible movements of its support or container: We shook nuts from the tree.
  5. to cause to sway, rock, totter, etc.: to shake the very foundations of society.
  6. to agitate or disturb profoundly in feeling: The experience shook him badly.
  7. to cause to doubt or waver; weaken. to shake one’s self-esteem.
  8. Music. to trill (a note).
  9. to mix (dice) by rolling in the palm of the hand before they are cast.
  10. to get rid of; elude: They tried to shake their pursuers.


  1. an act or instance of shaking, rocking, swaying, etc.
  2. tremulous motion.
  3. a tremor.
  4. shakes, (used with a singular verb) Informal. a state or spell of trembling, as caused by fear, fever, cold, etc. (usually preceded by the).
  5. a disturbing blow; shock.
  6. Informal. milk shake.
  7. the act or a manner of clasping another’s hand in greeting, agreement, etc.: He has a strong shake.
  8. Informal. chance or fate; deal: a fair shake.
  9. a cast of the dice: He threw an eight on his last shake.
  10. something resulting from shaking.
  11. an earthquake.
  12. a fissure in the earth.
  13. an internal crack or fissure in timber.
  14. Music. trill1(def 9).
  15. an instant: I’ll be with you in a shake.
  16. Carpentry. a shingle or clapboard formed by splitting a short log into a number of tapered radial sections with a hatchet.
  17. Horology. (in an escapement) the distance between the nearer corner of one pallet and the nearest tooth of the escape wheel when the other pallet arrests an escape tooth.
  18. Chiefly South Midland U.S. shaker(def 2).
  19. a dance deriving from the twist.
  20. Slang. the dried leaves of the marijuana plant.

Verb Phrases

  1. shake down,
    1. to cause to descend by shaking; bring down.
    2. to cause to settle.
    3. to condition; test: to shake down a ship.
    4. extort money from.
    5. search (someone), especially to detect concealed weapons.
  2. shake off,
    1. to rid oneself of; reject.
    2. to get away from; leave behind.
    3. Baseball, Softball.(of a pitcher) to indicate rejection of (a sign by the catcher for a certain pitch) by shaking the head or motioning with the glove.
  3. shake up,
    1. to shake in order to mix or loosen.
    2. to upset; jar.
    3. to agitate mentally or physically: The threat of attack has shaken up the entire country.


  1. no great shakes, Informal. of no particular ability; unimportant; common: As opera companies go, this one is no great shakes.
  2. 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.
  3. shake hands. hand(def 79).
  4. 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.
  5. shake the dust from one’s feet. dust(def 26).
  6. two shakes (of a lamb’s tail), a very short time; a moment.

verb shakes, shaking, shook or shaken (ˈʃeɪkən)

  1. to move or cause to move up and down or back and forth with short quick movements; vibrate
  2. to sway or totter or cause to sway or totter
  3. 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
  4. shake hands to clasp hands in greeting, agreement, etc
  5. shake on it informal to shake hands in agreement, reconciliation, etc
  6. to bring or come to a specified condition by or as if by shakinghe shook free and ran
  7. (tr) to wave or brandishhe shook his sword
  8. (tr often foll by up) to rouse, stir, or agitate
  9. (tr) to shock, disturb, or upsethe was shaken by the news of her death
  10. (tr) to undermine or weakenthe crisis shook his faith
  11. to mix (dice) by rattling in a cup or the hand before throwing
  12. (tr) Australian archaic, slang to steal
  13. (tr) US and Canadian informal to escape fromcan you shake that detective?
  14. music to perform a trill on (a note)
  15. (tr) US informal to fare or progress; happen as specifiedhow’s it shaking?
  16. shake a leg informal to hurry: usually used in the imperative
  17. shake in one’s shoes to tremble with fear or apprehension
  18. shake one’s head to indicate disagreement or disapproval by moving the head from side to side
  19. shake the dust from one’s feet to depart gladly or with the intention not to return


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

v.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. n.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. Express disapproval, dissent, or doubt, as in That announcement had us shaking our heads in dismay. This expression, which can be used both literally (for moving one’s head from side to side) and figuratively, dates from about 1300. 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
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