shakes, the n.
1. (also shivery shakes) delirium tremens, the shaking associated with an alcoholic who has been deprived of sufficient drink to achieve normality.
|City of the Saints 59: Being obliged to leave behind one of the conductors, who had become delirious with the ‘shakes’.|
|Belfast Morn. News 24 Feb. 4/1: Poor Joe has got the shakes, and Rube the horrors upon him.|
|Mercury (Hobart) 23 Apr. 2/5: [from the Stranraer Free Press] [...] in the shakes, in the blues.|
|Cornhill Mag. June 616: Until she is pulled up by an attack of delirium tremens, or, as she and her neighbours style it, a fit of the shakes [F&H].|
|Dumont’s Joke Book 75: mid.: You should not drink at all. end.: I had to. I was awful sick. I had the shakes.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Mar. 25/2: ‘Charles Warner is again ‘Drink’-ing strong and successfully,’ writes the Bulletin’s London correspondent. ‘His bout at the Adelphi only increased the public’s thirst, and C.W. had to transfer his ’shakes’ and d.t.’s to the Princess.’.|
|Western Times (Devon) 2 Oct. 2/7: In defence [he] said he had ‘the shakes all over,’ and probably because he staggered a litle policeman thought he was drunk.|
|(con. 1900s) Elmer Gantry 228: He would be up there, kneeling with a sewing-machine agent with the day-after shakes.|
|High Sierra in Four Novels (1984) 314: One of the guys, a bird nobody liked, had the shakes.|
|Amer. Thes. Sl. §130.9: delerium tremens, the [...] shivery shakes.|
|Fowlers End (2001) 154: Poor Miss Noel had the shakes. She had been drinking methylated spirits.|
|Addict in the Street (1966) 145: The alcoholic can tell the doctor he’s got the shakes and they’ll give him a drink of paraldehyde.|
|Glass Canoe (1982) 192: Wal reckoned I had the shakes from being on the piss the night before.|
|(con. 1950s–60s) in Little Legs 184: In the mornings I often wake up with the shakes.|
|‘The Shakes’ [lyrics] I’ve got the shakes, bay. The shakes. [...] Buy some booze for breakfast.|
2. fever, e.g. malaria.
|Devizes & Wilts. Gaz. 28 Apr. 4/1: Boston is a terrible place for fevers and agues [...] or [the] ‘shake.’ as they call it.|
|Armargh Guardian 30 Sept. 5/4: He said he felt cold, and then got the shakes [...] ‘I’m sorry to tell you,’ says the doctor, ‘that this is [...] a case of typhus fever’.|
|(con. 1861-5) Life of Billy Yank 134: One out of every four cases of illness [...] was malarial [...] The disease was so common, indeed, that a standard greeting in some camps was ‘Have you had the shakes?’.|
3. (also shakeroos) extreme terror, nervousness.
|Long Voyage Home (1923) 5: You’d fair give a bloke the shakes a-watchin’ yer.|
|(con. 1917–18) Wings (1928) 72: He’s got the shakes! Hand’s trembling like a leaf.|
|High Window 124: Would you mind telling me why you had Eddie call me up and give me the shakes?|
|Little Men, Big World 166: He’s got the shakeroos. He’s a lost cause.|
|Augie March (1996) 115: It was a while before I could straight think about it [i.e. a robbery], having the shakes.|
|Crust on its Uppers 98: I’ve got the shakes a bit.|
|Start in Life (1979) 266: Got the shakes already, Mr Cullen?|
|Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 80: Even after I got him cleaned up, Rhett still had the shakes.|
|Legs 16: I have to get rid of the shakes.|
|Rubdown [ebook] When they’d left I lay down on the bench seat and gave in to the shakes.|
|What Fire Cannot Burn 132: There were times [...] when Soledad found herself with the shakes. The night after going up against the telepath she’d [...] vomited.|
4. as sense 1 in the context of withdrawal from narcotics.
|Prison Nurse (1964) 108: Last week he had the shakes so bad I thought he had a fever! How in hell he expected to shoot stuff into veins when his fingers were twitching all over.|
|Junkie (1966) 135: I had the shakes bad and on top of that I was junk-sick.|
|Gentleman Junkie 21: Oh, God, the withdrawal symptoms. The shakes took him, then.‘Gentleman Junkie’ in|
|Brown’s Requiem 69: I’m gonna geez. I can’t talk to you till I get over these shakes.|
|Homeboy 42: Rooski was trying to blame his shakes on his multiple overdoses of electro-shock.|
|Observer 9 Jan. 6: Cold sweats then hot sweats, getting the shakes.|
|Bad Sex on Speed 23: In the De-Speed Wing [...] They gave you something for the shakes.|
5. a similar effect to sense 1, caused by excess coffee.
|(con. 1949) Big Blowdown (1999) 250: I got the caffeine shakes, is all it is.|
|Neon Wilderness (1986) 208: He had only been a weak sort of kid [...] with a brace on one leg or cockeyes or the shakes.|
7. great excitement.
|Jimmy Brockett 104: She went limp and started panting. I had the shakes a bit myself.|
|Cop This Lot 95: Got the shakes, ’ave yer? Wait till y’ve been married as long as I ’ave.|
|Guardian Guide 8–14 Jan. 26: I was suffering with the shakes after seeing Pete Tong at Bananas.|
8. an addiction to (dice) gambling.
|Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 2: He always warned me about having the shakes — an addcitive gambling problem.|