Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shake n.1

1. in sexual senses.

(a) [16C–1900s] an act of sexual intercourse.

(b) [mid–late 19C] a prostitute or kept woman.

2. [mid-19C] a disreputable man.

3. [mid-19C] (US) constr. with the, malaria.

4. as a form of entertainment.

(a) [mid-19C+] (US) a dance.

(b) [1930s+] (US black) a party at which the guests pay an admission fee to help pay the rent and pay for the refreshments.

(c) [1970s] a party.

5. [mid-19C+] a moment, a second.

6. [late 19C-1900s] (US) constr. with the, an act of dismissal.

7. [1910s+] in US Und. uses [abbr. shakedown n. (4)].

(a) blackmail, extortion, often from homosexuals.

(b) an arrest; a search by the police or prison guards.

8. in drug uses [note dial. shake, the residue of grain after harvesting].

(a) [1970s+] marijuana, esp. the residue of a bag of cannabis after the smokeable buds are removed.

(b) [1980s] diluted cocaine.

9. [1980s+] (US campus) constr. with the, an undesirable person.

10. see fair shake n.

Pertaining to extortion

In compounds

shake artist (n.) [-artist sfx]

[1940s] (US Und.) a blackmailer.

shake man (n.)

[1900s–50s] (US Und.) an extortionist.

shake mob (n.)

[1900s–30s] (US Und.) a gang of extortionists.

In phrases

on the shake

1. [1930s] of police, raiding, making arrests.

2. [1930s+] involved in extortion, usu. for a living.

put the shake on (v.)

[1920s+] (US Und.) to blackmail, to extort.

Pertaining to drugs

In compounds

shake-bag (n.) [bag n.1 (6)]

[2000s] (US drugs) a bag of second-rate marijuana.

In phrases

cold shake (v.)

[1990s+] (US drugs) to prepare a drug for injection by shaking a capsule in cold water so as to dissolve the pill and mix the two together (the usual method is to heat the drug/water solution); thus also as n.

Other uses

In derivatives

shakish (adj.) [sense 1a above]

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) promiscuous; spec. working as a prostitute.

In phrases

half-a-shake (n.)

[19C+] a moment, a very short time, also as interj. to request that a third party waits a brief time (see cite 1933).

two shakes (n.) (also brace of shakes, couple of shakes, ten shakes, three shakes) [abbr. of two shakes of a lamb’s tail phr.; SE brace, pair; but note also sense 5 above]

[mid-19C+] a very short time; usu. with in..., meaning quickly, immediately.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

asking for a shake

[1950s] (US) looking for trouble.

do fries go with that shake? (also want fries with that shake?) [burger bar imagery]

[1970s+] (US black) a phr. called out by a man to a passing attractive woman (whose buttocks move as she walks).

even shake (n.) (also good shake) [the shaking of dice; fair shake n.]

[1960s+] an equal chance.

fair shake (n.)

see separate entry.

give someone the shake (v.) (also give someone a shake) [abbr. SE handshake]

[late 19C+] (US) to reject someone, to dismiss or get rid of someone, to leave or run off; often as ...cold shake, ...dead shake; thus get the shake, to be rejected.

give something the shake (v.)

[1900s] to abandon, to give up.

great shakes (n.) (also great shucks, much shucks, shakes, shucks, some shakes)

[early 19C+] something very good or admirable; usu. in negative no great shakes, not any great shakes etc.

shake of the bag (n.) (also last shake of the bag, shakings of the bag, shake-poke, shaky-poke) [the image of shaking the very last crumbs from a bag + bag n.1 ] [mid-19C+] (Irish)

the youngest child in a family.

square the shake (v.)

[1940s] (US Und.) to pay a bribe.