verb (used without object)

  1. to shake or tremble with cold, fear, excitement, etc.
  2. Nautical.
    1. (of a fore-and-aft sail) to shake when too close to the wind.
    2. (of a sailing vessel) to be headed so close to the wind that the sails shake.


  1. a tremulous motion; a tremble or quiver: The thought sent a shiver down her spine.
  2. shivers, an attack of shivering or chills (usually preceded by the).

verb (used with or without object)

  1. to break or split into fragments.


  1. a fragment; splinter.

verb (intr)

  1. to shake or tremble, as from cold or fear
    1. (of a sail) to luff; flap or shake
    2. (of a sailing vessel) to sail close enough to the wind to make the sails luff


  1. the act of shivering; a tremulous motion
  2. the shivers an attack of shivering, esp through fear or illness


  1. to break or cause to break into fragments


  1. a splintered piece

“shake,” c.1400, alteration of chiveren (c.1200), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old English ceafl “jaw,” on notion of chattering teeth. Spelling change of ch- to sh- is probably from influence of shake. Related: Shivered; shivering.


“small piece, splinter, fragment, chip,” c.1200, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English word, related to Middle Low German schever schiver “splinter,” Old High German scivero, from Proto-Germanic *skif- “split” (cf. Old High German skivaro “splinter,” German Schiefer “splinter, slate”), from PIE *skei- “to cut, split” (see shed (v.)). Commonly in phrases to break to shivers “break into bits” (mid-15c.). Also, shiver is still dialectal for “a splinter” in Norfolk and Lincolnshire.


“to break in or into many small pieces,” c.1200, from the source of shiver (n.). Chiefly in phrase shiver me timbers (1835), “a mock oath attributed in comic fiction to sailors” [OED]. My timbers! as a nautical oath (probably euphemistic) is attested from 1789 (see timber (n.)). Related: Shivered; shivering.


“a tremulous, quivering motion,” 1727, from shiver (v.1). The shivers in reference to fever chills is from 1861.

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