- 1 [countable, usually singular] an act of shaking something/somebody Give the bottle a good shake before opening. He dismissed the idea with a firm shake of his head (= turning it from side to side to mean ‘no’). She gave him a shake to wake him. see also handshake of body
- 2the shakes [plural] (informal) a physical condition in which you cannot stop your body from shaking because of fear, illness, or because you have drunk too much alcohol I always get the shakes before exams. See related entries: Addiction, Being ill drink
- 3 [countable] = milkshake a strawberry shake Word Origin Old English sc(e)acan (verb), of Germanic origin.Extra examples He gave himself a mental shake and got down to work. a rueful shake of the head Give the bottle a good shake. He dismissed the idea with a firm shake of his head.Idioms (informal) to be not very good, efficient, suitable, etc. (North American English, informal) (to give somebody/get) fair treatment that gives you the same chance as somebody else Are minority students getting a fair shake at college? (informal) very soon We’ll be there in a couple of shakes.