Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shake v.

1. (also shake it, shake that thing) to have sexual intercourse (with); thus shake oneself, to masturbate; thus shaking n.

Middleton of York Epigrams 10: Maia’s faire sonne charm’d Argus hundred eies, But proud Longato charmes not Maia’s thighes; For worse then Argus’ eies they’le still be waking Till eies, thighes, lust, do fall asleepe with shaking.
[UK]Fletcher Custom of the Country IV iv: They are fair and young, Most of the women that repair unto me; But they stick on like burs, shake me like feathers.
[UK] ‘True Lover’s Admonition’ in Chappell Roxburghe Ballads (1874) II 466: She that hath hair that’s bright and fair, will do the trick most neatly.... if you but at her shake it, She will conclude you are not rude, but freely she will take it.
[UK]R. Ames Female Fire-Ships 13: [They] bear a dozen Leaps a Night, ... Till tir’d with Shaking of their worn-out Bums, Through Allies reel, to their respective Homes.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 302: And the same men that shook their towers / Shall shake their daughters, wives, and whores.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 48: [as cit. 1772].
[UK]Halliwell Dict. Archaic and Provincial Words 726/2: Shake [...] (5) Futuo. This seems to be the ancient form of shag, given by Grose.
[Aus]‘Dryblower’ ‘His Quest’ in Sun. Times (Perth) 3 Apr. 4/7: A man ’oo shakes ’ee’s cobber’s wife deserves an ounce of lead.
[US]Ethel Waters ‘Shake That Thing’ [lyrics] Why, there’s old Uncle Jack, the jellyroll king / He’s got a hump in his back from shakin’ that thing, / Yet, he still shakes that thing.
[US]L. Johnson ‘Stavin’ Chain’ [lyrics] If you don’t shake, you won’t get no cake, / If you don’t hum, I ain’t gonna give you none!
[Ire](con. 1890s) S. O’Casey Pictures in the Hallway 175: Go th’ devil an’ shake yourself! said Johnny.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Dust Tracks On a Road (1995) 694: It’s de last time, shakin in de bed with you.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 284: Under the cover, she’ll shake it and shake it, / With all of her shaking it’s a wonder she don’t break it.

2. in Und. uses.

(a) (Aus./UK Und.) to steal, to run off with; to rob; thus shaking n. [use after mid-19C mainly Aus.].

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Shake. To draw any thing from the pocket. He shook the swell of his fogle; he robbed the gentleman of his silk handkerchief.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 264: shake: to steal, or rob; as, I shook a chest of slop, I stole a chest of tea; I’ve been shook of my skin, I have been robbed of my purse. A thief, whose pall has been into any place for the purpose of robbery, will say on his coming out, Well, is it all right, have you shook? meaning, did you succeed in getting any thing? When two persons rob in company, it is generally the province, or part, of one to shake, (that is, obtain the swagg) and the other to carry, (that is, bear it to a place of safety).
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: A thief, whose pall has been into any place for the purpose of robbery [etc, as cit. 1812].
[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 165/1: To Shake – to rob.
[UK] ‘Poll Newry, The Dainty Flag-Hopper’ Gentleman’s Spicey Songster 30: O! have you not heard of Poll Newry, / Who lives in the hundreds of Drury; / Beware of her eye, for many’s the cly, / She has shook in the hundreds of Drury.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 6 Mar. 2/5: Edwards was endeavouring to ‘shake’ the inebriated man of any loose cash he might have about him.
[Aus]Goulburn Herald (NSW) 29 July 4/4: Then commenced a torrent of interrogation, mostly in slang, ‘What’s he shook?’ ‘Has he sloped?’.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend III 78: Caught trying to shake Captain Robinson’s tent.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 44/1: Some [...] averring than [sic] many a ‘poke’ which had been entrusted to the ‘flat’ to ‘turn-out’ had stood a good ‘shaking’.
[Aus]Australian I 418: Crimean shirts, blankets, and all they ‘shake,’ Which I’m told’s another name for ‘take.’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 May 23/1: We should like to meet that monk; perhaps he could put us in the way of finding the nun who ‘shook’ our best umbrella.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 11 Feb. 7/1: But the missing of the new chum, and the track the horses took, / Showed quite plainly they’d been stolen, in plain language, had been shook.
[Aus]W.T. Goodge ‘Great Aus. Slanguage’ in Baker Aus. Lang. (1945) 117: And to shake it is to steal it, / And to strike it is to beg.
[Aus]G. Seagram Bushman All 198: I lost it or some bloke shook it.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Oct. 13/4: At a pub in Little Bridge he shook a length of rope, sayin’ a rope might come in handy if a bloke wanted to steal a horse.
[UK]Northern Whig 12 Sept. 8/6: My blowen kidded a bloke into a panel crib and shook him of his thimble to put up the coal, but it wouldn’t fadge and I got three stretches.
[Aus]J. Doone Timely Tips For New Australians 23: TO ‘SHAKE.’—To steal.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 206: I’d forgotten Marie shook her clothes.
[Aus]P. White Season at Sarsaparilla in Four Plays (1965) 105: ’Ere! You don’t think I’d shake anything off Ern? ’E’s my mate!
[Aus]I. Moffitt U-Jack Society 165: Other Aboriginals shook (stole) his iron when he wasn’t minding the property.
[Aus]G.A. Wilkes Exploring Aus. Eng. 13: One enterprising convict, James Hardy Vaux, put together a vocabulary of the criminal slang of the colony – the ‘flash’ language – in 1812. His list includes [...] shake in the sense of ‘steal’.

(b) to blackmail, to extort money (from).

[US]‘Bill Nye’ Bill Nye and Boomerang 137: Preparatory to going out and ‘shaking’ the mayor for the lemonade.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 66: shake, v. to demand a bribe.
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 33: What do you shake them for?
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 182: ‘How much on the side – for not spilling what you know?’ [...] ‘You understand all right. How much you shake him for? I bet it’s not more than a couple of yards.’.

(c) (Can. Und.) to serve a prison sentence.

[US]J. Blake letter 27 Feb. Joint (1972) 41: The length of time to be shook on a sentence like mine is indeterminate.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 121: While you’re down there shaking that ten, / that whore’s out there drinking the best kind of gin.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 16: My name is Roger and I’m shaking fourteen months for B & E.

3. (US Und.) to divide or hand over criminal spoils.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 5 Oct. n.p.: The ‘flats’ pinched some of the ‘speilers.’ One was george harman; but [he was] made to ‘shake’ and ‘turned him up’.
[US]Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye 19 Aug. 8/5: The proposition was then made for him to ‘shake,’ thieves’ slang for dividing the money and let the man go.

4. (orig. UK Und.) in senses of SE shake off.

(a) of a person or activity, to abandon, to give up.

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Innocents at Home 336: And you can say, pard, that he never shook his mother.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 8 Oct. 10/3: [headline] swamped by a cyprian George Nieber [...] Robs His Father and is ‘shook’ by a Prostitute.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Life on the Mississippi (1914) 459: You told me if I would shake the cross (quit stealing) & live on the square for months, it would be the best job I ever done.
[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘Die Hard’ I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 24: Shake the monkey? Like fun.

(b) to leave.

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Tom Sawyer 271: Now these clothes suits me, and this bar’l suits me, and I ain’t never going to shake ’em any more.
[US]Nat. Tribune (DC) 12 Apr. 8/1: Let’s shake. Get on your duds quick.
[US]Anaconda Standard (MT) 15 Dec. 10/1: ‘Dere was nuttin dere for us an’ so we shakes der town’.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 12: I, too, am ready to shake this burg for California.

(c) (also shake off) to get rid of, usu. of a person.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 93/2: I said that I would pipe his manœuvres off, and if I saw anything ‘wrong’ about him I would immediately ‘shake’ him.
[US]F. Dumont Africanus Blue Beard 10: What do you mean by ‘shaking’ my daughter?
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 9/2: Shake this mob, Bill, and speel to the den, and let our lushy shicksters bring the ruin in. Get away from these fellows, Bill, and come away home, and let our tippling women bring in the gin.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 18 Jan. 4/2: ‘I shook him [i.e. a boyfriend] some time ago [...] he wanted me to marry him and I shook him’.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 50: He didn’t have as many stamps as he tried to make out, so I shook him, that’s all.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 107: I’ll certainly be glad to shake this make-up.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Champion’ Coll. Short Stories (1941) 125: I’m goin’ with you. You’re not goin’ to shake me now.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 64: They’re trying to shake that cheap stiff. Playin’ the chill for him, eh?
[US]N. Algren ‘So Help Me’ Texas Stories (1995) 22: By the time it is morning I had decided to shake him, suitcase or no suitcase.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 72: Don’t let him shake you under any circumstances.
[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 135: ‘I have a date with my boyfriend.’ ‘Can’t you shake him?’.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 87: I’m gonna see if you can’t shake this quarter off your goddamn ass.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 249: I knew I was going to shake Donny after the night anyhow.
[UK]A-Team Storybook 39: Lynch is on our tail. B.A.’s [...] trying to shake him off.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 58: How were they dogging him so close? He was sure he’d shook them.
[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 273: You can’t shake him, ’cause after you pull a couple jobs, you know too much.

(d) to evade a pursuer.

[US]‘Old Sleuth’ Dock Rats of N.Y. (2006) 111: The officer at once suspected that there was a possibility that someone of the scoundrels had ‘tumbled’ to his identity, and he resolved to ‘shake’ the ruffian at once.
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 589: shake, v. To refuse to consider; to snub. ‘I wanted to go over and see her, but she shook me.’.
[US]R. Coleman Girl From Back Home in Hatch & Hamalian Lost Plays of Harlem Renaissance (1996) 104: You didn’t think you could shake me as easy as that, did you?
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 190/1: Shake a tail. To elude pursuit.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 53: I’ll shake these bums easy.
[UK]Guardian Space 13 Apr. 18: After a lot of ducking and weaving, I shake the car.

5. (US) to win when gambling.

[US]H. Blossom Checkers 20: If I could shake the faro-bank and crap-game, I’d have money to burn ice with.

6. in uses implying lit. or fig. movement.

(a) (US, also shake oneself) as imper., get going, hurry up; to hurry up.

[US]Van Loan ‘The Redemption Handicap’ Old Man Curry 192: Can’t load much to-day, hawss! [...] Shake yo’self! Li’l mo steam!
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 248: Come on! Shake!
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 168: You take ’im fast [...] Hot like hell now. You shake ol’ brown, get ’im there okay. Come on!

(b) (US black) to explain (to).

[UK](con. 1930s) D. Wells Night People 65: ‘She told me to go by and see her girl friend [...] So I dropped by her pad and blew her horn.’ ‘Shake me, daddy. I’m not with you.’ ‘I mean, rang her bell.’.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 72: ‘Shake it, daddy, what else do you want to know?’ he said. Besides suffering from terminal cancer, he was suffering from terminal hipsterism.

(c) to happen, to start to happen.

[US]J. Blake letter 3 Oct. Joint (1972) 68: I presume to ask you [...] to keep him informed of what’s shaking musically in Chicago.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 103: I opened my mouth to answer and Louie and I knew what was shakin’ at the same fuckin’ time. The difference between me and Louie was that he was white. [Ibid.] 251: I knew what was gonna shake next. I’d be sounded and if I punked out—‘game time’.
[UK](con. 1930s) D. Wells Night People 66: So? What shook?
[US]B. Gifford Night People 180: There’s not much shakin’ job-wise in N.O.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 146: What’s shaking on Asa Johnson?

(d) (W.I.) to move on.

[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 47: Shake to move on: u. I man a shake de spot.

7. see shake out

8. see shake down v. (2d)

In compounds

shake-bag (n.)

1. a prostitute.

[UK]Congreve Way of the World IV ii: witwoud: Will you go to the cock-match? sir wilfull: With a wench, Tony. Is she a shake-bag, sirrah!
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker (1925) I 68: I would pit her for a cool hundred [...] against the best shakebag of the whole main.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. III 96/2: You will [...] have the pleasure of being estimated by [...] the blacklegs, rooks, and shakebags, as a complete knowing one.

2. the vagina.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

3. see shag-bag n.

In phrases

SE in slang uses

In compounds

shake baby (n.) [baby n. (3) is encouraged to ‘shake that thing’]

(US black) a dress that is tight across the hips and has a short, full skirt.

[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 93: Tookie Allen passed by the mill all dressed up in a tight shake-baby. She must have thought she looked good because she was walking that way. All the men stopped talking for a while.
shake-buckler (n.) [SE shake + buckler, a sword]

a bully, a thug.

[UK]Becon Works II 355: Such Sim Shake-bucklers as in their young years fall into serving, and in their old years fall into beggary [F&H].
shake-em-up (n.) [its effects]

(US black) white port and lemon juice.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 187: Silver Satin with lemon juice was called Satin, shake-em-up, and WPLJ (white port and lemon juice).
shakefoot (n.)

(W.I.) a party or dance, esp. one to which an invitation is not required.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).
shake-lurk (n.) [SE shake, to wave + lurk n. (1)]

a piece of paper, carried by a beggar, which purports (falsely) to give an account of a terrible disaster, usu. a shipwreck, in which the beggar has suffered.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 219/2: His [i.e. a patterer] papers certify any and every ‘ill that flesh is heir to.’ Shipwreck is called a ‘shake lurk;’ loss by fire is a ‘glim’.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

In phrases

nothing shaking (but the leaves on the trees)

(US) a phr. used to indicate that nothing is going on; often the response to the greeting what’s shaking? , and meaning things are normal.

[US]E. Fontaine ‘Nothing Shaking But the Leaves on the Trees’ [lyrics] Why must she be / Such a doggone tease, / There’s nothing shaking / But the leaves on the trees.
[US]D. Cerulli et al. Jazz Word 109: There’s not really a living ass to talk to, and there’s nothing shaking.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 95: There’s nothin’ shakin’ outside the U.S.A.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 181: There was nothing shaking but the leaves on the trees.
shake (a) cloth in the wind (v.)

1. to be hanged in chains [one’s flapping clothes].

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: To Shake a Cloth in the Wind. To be Hanged in Chains.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. to be slightly drunk [orig. naut. jargon].

[UK]Morn. Post (London) 13 Oct. 4/1: I’m proud of your company [...] and hope you won’t despise me ’cause I shake a cloth in the wind.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight 225: Our tippler may further be [...] shaking cloth in the wind.
shake a hoof (v.)

1. to run.

[US]G. Herriman ‘Baron Bean’ [comic strip] De po’ ole ‘Baron’ is shaking a wary wary wiolent hoof.

2. to hurry, to ‘get a move on’.

[US](con. 1918) J.W. Thomason Red Pants 140: Shake a hoof, you cat-whiskered cabrones!

3. (US, also shake a limb) to dance.

[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 457: How’s chances on dragging her out to feed and shake a hoof with Uncle Clif?
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 46: shake a leg, a limb, a hoof. Dance, or move more speedily.
[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 177: If he’d ever [...] shaken a hoof at Billy Portifero’s place, he’d have something to hand out.
[US]R.E. Howard ‘Pit of the Serpent’ Fight Stories July [Internet] ‘Let’s shake a hoof, baby,’ said this skate.
shake a leg (v.)

1. (also shake a foot, …haystack, …heel, …loose foot, …loose leg, …loose toe, …toe, turn a leg, shake one’s feet, …foot, …leg, …heels, ...socks, shake the foot) to dance; thus legshaking n.; leg-shake, n. a dance.

[UK]H. Glapthorne Lady Mother II i: mus.: Daunce? Yes, sir we can shake our legs or soe. suc.: So said so don, brave ladd; come letts have a daunce.
[UK]Vanbrugh Confederacy I i: He’s always shaking his Heels with the Ladies, and his Elbows with the Lords.
[UK]T. Morton Speed the Plough II iv: ash.: I suppose you can sheake [sic] a leg a bit? handy, jun.: I fancy I can dance every possible step.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 206: While I live on this earth may I shake a loose leg [...] I dance on through life while others folks run.
[UK]J.B. Buckstone Wreck Ashore II i: Dance with? with me, to be sure; though I hav’n’t shaken a toe these twenty years.
[UK]‘Shake a Loose Leg!’ in Corinthian in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 47: [as 1822].
[Ire] ‘Donnybrook Jig’ Dublin Comic Songster 262: We’ll shake a loose toe, / While you humour the bow.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 123: Shake a toe, to dance.
[UK]Thackeray Mr Maloney’s Account of the Ball n.p.: And I’d like to hear the pipers blow, And shake a fut with Fanny there [F&H].
[Ire]Freeman’s Jrnl 23 Oct. 4/3: He danced [...] with a number of individuals to whom he had issued ‘piper’s invitatioons’ to ’shake a loose toe’.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 277: Public full-dress balls, to which a man may go, lounge about [...] and go away again without ever shaking a leg.
[UK] ‘Timothy Brown the Tailor’ Rakish Rhymer (1917) 38: Cried this fair young maiden — / ‘You’ll shake a leg with me, old flick?’.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 357: He hoped that [...] he would ‘jine ’em and shake a toe.’.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly III 189: It will be a wedding [...] You and I may shake a leg at it if we like.
[US]Scribner’s Monthly Mar. 655: I’ve heard my father play it at Arrah, and shook a foot myself with the lads on the green [F&H].
[US]Belmont Chron. 28 June 1/6: A low-life vagabond, I’ll be bound, or he wouldn’t go to a vile ball and use such disgusting slang. ‘Shake a leg’ indeed!
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 16 Nov. 2/3: Has this man a notion that when a girl goes to shake her socks in the mazy the fellows yank her off the seat by the hair, and hustle her round as if they were handling chaff?
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 109: I can shake my leg a bit though you mightn’t think it.
[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 16: shake the foot To dance.
[UK]H. Macfall Wooings of Jezebel Pettyfer 307: I ax’d she to take de floor wid me and shake a leg.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 28: Peter and Swears were going down to Brighton [...] to shake a loose leg at a ball.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 8 Mar. 1/1: A recently held leg-shake.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 21 July 1/1: In consequence of inquiries neither clan will shake a leg at the shivoo.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Nov. 40/2: But he, egad, would turn a leg in town, / Would tread a measure at fastidious routs / And sit at meat with princes!
[UK]R.D. Paine Fighting Fleets 221: The doctor could shake a loose foot with any of them, and Anne’s slippers fairly twinkled.
[US]R.J. Fry Salvation of Jemmy Sl. I ii: The orchestra plays the swellest jazz ya ever shook yer foot to.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 46: shake a leg, a limb, a hoof. Dance, or move more speedily.
[US]E. Dahlberg Bottom Dogs 256: When the niggerjazz band was at their pop and the legshaking had stopped a bit.
[UK]Sunderland Echo 4 Sept. 5/6: The Sisters Burano [...] shake a pretty leg.
[US]R.F. Adams Cowboy Lingo 190: Grab yo’ heifer an’ rattle yo’ hocks [...] Shake yo’ feet an’ ketch yo’ kitty.
[US]W.R. Burnett High Sierra in Four Novels (1984) 317: I’d get on my yacht and sail down to the islands where the babies shake a keen haystack.
[US]H. Miller Sexus (1969) 129: Some got up and danced who hadn’t shaken a leg for years.
[UK](con. c.1918) D. Holman-Hunt My Grandmothers and I (1987) 21: Tilly, do come and shake a leg.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 102: I like dancing really to some Latin / we jump around a bit and shake a leg.
[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 93: I like to go there [i.e. a club] and shake a leg.

2. (also shake leg) to hurry up, to get a move on (lit. and fig.); often as imper.

[US]H.H. Lewis Gunner Aboard the ‘Yankee’ 924: Shake a leg there!
[UK]Star 23 Mar. 4/3: [from Longman’s Mag.] Come on old naggie [...] we’d better shake a leg out of this.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 220/1: Shake leg (Peoples’). Remove.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 23 July 10/1: If the girls are set on being just as free as birds like us, / Let ’em be it, let ’em be it, let ’em shake a leg and go / On the tracks that lead to Glory or to somewhere else we know.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 265: They called him ‘Old Georgie’ and shouted ‘Come on now, sport; shake a leg’.
[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 103: Any time the doc comes here I want you to shake a leg and hand him out that well-known service.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 161: I wish Killarney would shake a leg.
[US]J. Weidman I Can Get It For You Wholesale 154: Shake a leg, there, will you?
[US]E. O’Neill Long Day’s Journey into Night II ii: By God, look at the time! I’ll have to shake a leg.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Seraph on the Suwanee (1995) 630: Shake a leg! The foundations of my patience gives way mighty easy.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 233: Shake a leg, or we’ll miss the Procession.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 145: I woke to find Joe shaking me. ‘Time ter shake a leg.’.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 131: ‘Come on, Brew,’ I said, ‘shake a leg.’ I pulled the covers off my amigo. [Ibid.] 249: ‘Goldberg ... Goldberg, shake a leg.’ ‘Yessir, I’m coming.’.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 176: Better shake a leg [...] Looks like it’s going to rain.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Big Brother’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Oi, come on Rodney, shake a leg, we’ve got a meeting at 12.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 7: shake a leg – hurry.
[UK]Observer Rev. 11 July 9: Chin up, best foot forward, shake a leg, life’s what you make it.
[US]J. Ellroy Hilliker Curse 6: My dad yukked and told me to shake a leg. We were going to a movie.
shake along (v.) (also shake oneself along)

to move on.

[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 100: Leon shook himself along.
M. South Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles (2005) 127: I found myself adapting and humming half forgotten fragments of an old ballad of the Pony Express: ‘Shake along, little burros; shake along’.
shake a loose leg (v.) (also shake a free leg)

(UK tramp) to live wandering as a tramp.

[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 208: But, while luck lasts, the highwayman shakes a loose leg!
[UK]H. Mayhew Great World of London 87: Those who love to shake a free leg, and lead a roving life, as they term it, rather than settle down to any continuous employment.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 407/1: The pleasure of ‘shaking a loose leg,’ as the vagrants themselves call it, is, perhaps, known only in its intensity by those wayward spirits who object to the restraint of work.
shake (a man’s) back (v.) [horseriding imagery]

of a woman, to copulate enthusiastically.

[UK]Shakespeare Henry V III vii: Methought yesterday your mistress shrewdly shook your back.
shake a sheet (v.)

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]Fletcher Mad Lover IV ii: A bawdie House [...] Your pinkt Citizens That thinke no shame to shake a sheet there.
shake a tail-feather (v.) [note Ward, A Compleat and Humorous Account of all the Remarkable Clubs and Societies (1709): ‘A Set of Dancers were wantonly engaged in their Shake-Tail Exercise’]

1. (orig. US) to dance energetically.

[US]The Five Du-Tones [song title] Shake A Tail Feather.
[US]R. Shell Iced 115: She was on the dance floor shaking several tail feathers with this eight foot tall [...] dude.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.

2. to act energetically.

[US]G. Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 117: ‘Shake a tail feather, baby.’ Monique turned on one heel and went to the fridge to get their beer.
shake a wicked leg (v.) (also shake a mean hip, shake a nasty hoof, …shoulder, shake a wicked foot, …hoof, …limb, )

1. (US) to dance well and energetically.

[US]Bisbee Dly Rev. (AZ) 25 Sept. 5/2: Come to our ‘Ragpickers’ Hop’ [and] shake a wicked hoof and sing.
[UK]Oakland Trib. 9CA) 21 Oct. 22/4: When you’ve kicked the grape around / Till you’re dizzy in the dome; / And you shake a nasty hoof / On your cork-screw way home.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald III (1960) 62: Hey, ponies — how about easing up on the crap game and shaking a mean hip?
Newcastle Herald (PA) 28 Aug. 20/4: There are grandpas on the force who are still able to ‘shake a wicked leg’.
[US]O.O. McIntyre Bits of New York Life 31 Jan. [synd. col.] In odd moments he ‘shakes a wicked foot’.
Wichita Beacon (KS) 13 jan. 7/2: ‘What does Jack mean when he says I ride a slippery heel?’ ‘O — that’s his slang: he means you shake a nasty hoof’.
[US]F.W. Pollock ‘The Current Expansion of Sl.’ in AS II:3 146: A good dancer ‘shakes a wicked hoof,’ while a competent performer on the saxophone ‘wields a mean sax’.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 59: wicked. Skilled; as, shake a wicked leg or limb.
[US]H.C. Witwer Classics in Sl. 56: K.O. Macbeth’s wife tunes in on WXYZ, begins shakin’ a nasty shoulder and fin’ly vamps the champ into stayin’ over the night at the challenger’s dump. [Ibid.] 69: Romeo is out on the floor shakin’ a nasty hoof with one of the janes.
Eve. Times (Sayre, PA) 11 Mar. 5/7: Clarence darrow will be under a handicap before that Hawaiian jury if he cannot play a steel guitar and shake a mean hip.
Williamsburg Jrnl. Trib. (IA) 23 Feb. 2/4: You think you’re a fancy dancer, / That you shake a wicked leg, / You’re as graceful as a suited fish.
[US]Altoona Trib. (PA) 7 Jan. 8/1: Gilda Gray still shakes a ‘mean’ hip in spite of all the new fangled Latin dances.
Sumner Gaz. (IA) 1 June 2/7: Anybuddy [sic] who likes to shake a wicked hoof [...] wants to be sure to attend the Opening Dance.
Alton Eve. Teleg. (IL) 31 May 11/2: He being a former [...] tapdancer, can still shake a wicked leg.
[US]Millard Co. Chron. (Delta, VT) 7 Nov. 1/5: Wrassle with the cats from 6:30 to nine. Shake a nasty hoof after nose bag is hung.
Times (Shreveport, LA) 14 May 6/2: Roddy revealed he could shake a wicked hoof if required.
[US]Brooklyn Dly Eagle (NY) 14 Aug. 5/5: Mr Spencer shakes a wicked leg and gives out with a Charleston.
Yuma Dly Sun (AZ) 27 Mar. 10/2: Don Baker [...] stgill shakes a wicked leg along with the best of them.
Eve. Indep. (Massillon, OH) 8 Nov. 10/2: Buddy Ebsen can still shake a wicked hoof.
[US]Baltimore Sun (MD) 20 Sept. 20/4: You’ll get up and shake a wicked leg. The dancing begins at 5 pm.
News-Jrnl (Mansfield, OH) 4 May 17/5: Marlene Dietrich shakes a wicked leg.
[US]L.A. Times 10 June 174/4: ‘We’ll take a class together and [...] “shake a wicked leg”’.

2. (US) to run away at speed.

Courier-Jrnl (Louisville, KY) 24 Oct. 5/5: We have certainly had our ins and outs with the Kaiser’s men. We have made them shake a wicked leg in getting away.
shake down

see separate entries.

shake hands (v.)

see separate entry.

shake it up (v.) (also shake it, shake her up, shake oneself up, shake up)

1. (Aus./US) to hurry up.

[US]L.H. Bagg Four Years at Yale 47: Shake up, to make haste. To ‘shake up a song,’ or ‘a tune,’ is to sing; and the imperative, shake it up! signifies, wide awake, there! bestir yourself!
[US]H.H. Lewis Gunner Aboard the ‘Yankee’ 116: Get those things below at once. Shake it up.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Oct. 48/1: ‘Mother av Christ!’ he exclaimed. ‘The dhirty dogs are at it again! Shake ’er up!’ And with that he fetched the nearest mule a welt that sent the team racing to the shelter of the next bend.
[Aus]C.E.W. Bean Anzac Book 36/1: So for God’s sake shake it up; if you don’t, they won’t see you home at all. It’s an unhealthy night to be out.
[Aus]Aussie (France) Jan. 11/1: Shake yourself up, man! You ought to be there with this message by this.
[UK](con. WWI) E. Lynch Somme Mud 38: We [...] sincerely hope they’ll shake it up and relieve us early.
[US]D. Hammett ‘$106,000 Blood Money’ Story Omnibus (1966) 347: Come on [...] We’ve got to shake it up if we want to find our folks at home.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 129: Shake it up before the stores close.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘Fun in an Artist’s Studio’ in Pat Hobby Stories (1967) 145: Shake it up, you.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 141: Shake it because I need it right away.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 11: Shake it up. Come on, move!
[US]M. Braly False Starts 47: A cadet officer leaned in the doorway and shouted ‘Shake it up!’.

2. (US) to walk in a provocative manner.

[US]J. Conroy World to Win 121: Look at that Goddamn fairy, Ralph Gibson [...] Look at the way he shakes it up. He’s tried to make every freshie on the campus.
shake ’n’ bake (n.)

see separate entry.

shake-off (n.)

(US) the act of dismissing or abandoning someone.

[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 126: In the Shake-off it befell that Angie got Wilbur and Lib drew Otis.
[UK]P. Cheyney Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 49: She gets the idea inta her little blonde head that you are thinkin’ up some deep an’ heavy plot for a quick shake-off.
shake one’s ass (v.)

see under ass n.

shake one’s jolt (v.)

see under jolt n.

shake one’s shirt (v.) (also get one’s shirt tail shaking)

(N.Z./US) to make an effort, to ‘get stuck in’.

[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 69: Wake up Jacob, day’s a breakin.’ Git yo’ hoe-cake bakin’ and yo’ shirt tail shakin’.
[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand n.p.: You’ll haveta shake ya shirt and get down to some hard yakker.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 98/2: shake your shirt get stuck in, as in removal of shirt the better to work.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
shake one’s tail (v.)

see under tail n.

shake one’s teeva (v.) [var. batty n.2 (1)]

(US black) to dance in an exuberant manner.

[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] teeva Definition: to go out and shake your ass and jiggle your tits Example: Hey girl go out there and shake dat teeva all night!
shake one’s tree (v.)

to pressurize someone emotionally.

[Aus]S. Maloney Big Ask 149: Sounds to me like Webb’s just shaking your tree, see if anything falls out.
shake out (v.) (also shake)

(W.I. Rasta) to leave without haste, casually.

[UK]Smiley Culture ‘Cockney Translation’ [lyrics] But sometimes me shake out and leave me home town.
[WI]M. Montague Dread Culture 70: Jamdown did a get too hot fi me. After di big shootout mi did haffa shake di area.
shake the dew off the lily (v.)

see under lily n.

shake the fleas out of one’s pants (v.) (also shake off/out the fleas)

(US) to make an effort, to ‘get a move on’, to stop being lazy.

[US]Tiffin Trib. (OH) 10 June 3/4: Talk right out like a man [...] call on everybody to rally to it. Wake up! Shake off the fleas and shell out.
[US]Cairo Bull. (IL) 18 June 4/4: The Republicans of Cairo are dead ducks [...] Let them arouse themselves, shake the fleas out of their feathers [...] and crow.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 13: Shake them fleas outa your pants. Service.
Odessa American (TX) 30 Oct. 2/6: ‘We hope that the conferees give the bill and a good shaking and shake out the fleas’.
shake the lead out (of) one’s arse/ass (v.)

see under lead n.

shake the pagoda tree (v.)

(of a colonial) to make a fortune in India.

[UK]T.E. Hook Merton 341: Dinner ended, and the ladies retired, the conversation turned upon occurrences long since past, and those olden times, in which the shaking of the pagoda-tree was an operation more generally performed, and with greater success, than in these modern days of moderation and economy.
[Ind][C. D’Oyly] Tom Raw, The Griffin 2: They talk in England of a precious tree. / That, but to shake, brings down its fruit, – (pagodas,) / And fancy every one’s rapacity / May be indulged.
[Ind]‘Sir Toby Rendrag’ Poems 48: Writers we know don’t shake Pagoda trees, / Three hundred was their pay, in mint Rupees.
[UK]J. Johnson Recess 224: He has plucked the fruit of the blighted pagoda tree – and behold the withering effects!
[[Ind]Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin I 6: They had all flourished for more than a century under the shade of the ‘rupee tree’].
[UK]Household Wds 432/1: [O]ne of the gentlemen told my father that [...] when I reached India, I must be sure to take ‘a good pull at the Pagoda Tree.’.
[UK]Allen’s Indian Mail (London) 14 Apr. 205/1: The Pagoda Tree is still occasionally found and pretty well shaken.
Harper’s Mthly Oct. 620/1: In those days, when the pagoda-tree still grew ‘on India’s coral strand’ [...] young Englishmen went out on purpose to pluck the ripe fruit and stuff their pockets with it.
[Ind]Yule & Burnell Hobson-Jobson 502/1: Pagoda-Tree. s. A slang phrase once current, rather in England than in India, to express the openings to rapid fortune which at one time existed in India.
[Ind]R.G. Sanyal Reminiscences and Anecdotes of Great Men of India 179: They were good old times, and some autumn fruit still lingered unplucked upon the now barren pagoda tree.
[Ind]D. Dewar Bombay Ducks v: In the palmy days of the East India Company, when the now-barren pagoda-tree showered its fruits upon all who shook it, the European residents of the Western Presidency were known as Bombay Ducks.
[US]P.G. Wodehouse in Sat. Rev. 14 Mar. 25/3: Later he went to India and cleaned up there to the tune of £120,000. Shaking the pagoda tree, it was called.
shake the tree (v.)

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK] in A. Niccholes Discourse of Marriage and Wiving 37: I have a wife my selfe, I tell you true, / Yet in the old kind seekes for pleasures new: / Taking not now delight that I haue tooke, / To shake the Tree that I so oft haue shooke.
shake up

see separate entries.

what’s shaking?

1. (US, also how’s it shaking?) a greeting, hello and how are you?

[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 11 Nov. n.p.: Remember way back then you used to say ‘whatcha know, Joe?’ ’Tain’t like that no more, kid. Now you say ‘Let’s talk trash’ or else ask ‘What’s shakin’?’ The answer is: ‘Nothin’ but the bacon.’.
[US]H. Ellison Rockabilly (1963) 171: What’s shaking, Stag?
[US](con. 1960s) R. R. Price Wanderers 17: Hey Antone, what’s shakin?
[US]Tennessean (Nashville, TN) 10 Oct. 59/4: Dos, dont’s for greeting the royalty. ‘Hey, [Princess] Anne, what’s shaking?’ will not get it.
[US]E. Ruggero 38 North Yankee 43: What’s shakin’?
[US]R. Campbell Wizard of La-La Land (1999) 11: ‘Hey, how’s it shaking, kid?’ Rialto said, soft and low.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Hollywood Fuck Pad’ Destination: Morgue! (2004) 222: What’s shakin’, you big-dick motherfuckers?
[US]Chicago Trib. 15 Aug. 10/3: [cartoon caption] ‘Don! It’s Bill’ What’s shakin’?’.

2. (US) what’s the matter?

[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 82: ‘Monk!’ Clark said. ‘Yeah, Clark, what’s shakin?’.
[US]S.C. Wilson Time Warp Tales [comic bk] Hey Geek what’s shakin’ here.

In exclamations