The Past Tense of Shake: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

Have you ever got stuck on the correct past tense of the word shake in English grammar? This article will explain the conjugations of the word shake and also define shake and give you all the information you need about how to use the word properly in the English language.

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What Is the Definition of the Word Shake?

The word shake is defined as:

Intransitive verb 

  • to move or sway with short, quick, irregular vibratory movements.
  • to tremble with emotion, cold, etc.
  • to become dislodged and fall (usually followed by off or down): 
    • Sand shakes off easily.
  • to move something, or its support or container, briskly to and fro or up and down, as in mixing: 
    • Shake before using.
  • to totter; become unsteady.
  • to clasp another’s hand in greeting, agreement, congratulations, etc.: 
    • Let’s shake and be friends again.
  • Music. to execute a trill.

Transitive verb 

  • to move (something or its support or container) to and fro or up and down with short, quick, forcible movements: 
    • to shake a bottle of milk.
  • to brandish or flourish: 
    • to shake a stick at someone.
  • to grasp (someone or something) firmly in an attempt to move or rouse by, or as by, vigorous movement to and fro: 
    • We shook the tree.
  • to dislodge or dispense (something) by short, quick, forcible movements of its support or container: 
    • We shook nuts from the tree.
  • to cause to sway, rock, totter, etc.: 
    • to shake the very foundations of society.
  • to agitate or disturb profoundly in feeling: 
    • The experience shook him badly.
  • to cause to doubt or waver; weaken
    • to shake one’s self-esteem.
  • Music. to trill (a note).
  • to mix (dice) by rolling in the palm of the hand before they are cast.
  • to get rid of; elude
    • They tried to shake their pursuers.


  • an act or instance of shaking, rocking, swaying, etc.
  • tremulous motion.
  • a tremor.
  • (used with a singular verb)(the) shakes. Informal. a state or spell of trembling, as caused by fear, fever, cold, etc.: 
    • I was up all night with a fever and the shakes.
  • a disturbing blow; shock
  • Informal. Milkshake 
  • the act or a manner of clasping another’s hand in greeting, agreement, etc.: 
    • He has a strong shake.
  • Informal. chance or treatment; deal:
    • a fair shake;
    • a bum shake.
  • See also fair shake
  • a cast of the dice: 
    • He threw an eight on his last shake.
  • something resulting from shaking.
  • an earthquake.
  • a fissure in the earth.
  • an internal crack or fissure in timber.
  • Music. trill
  • an instant: 
    • I’ll be with you in a shake.
  • Carpentry. a shingle or clapboard formed by splitting a short log into a number of tapered radial sections with a hatchet.
  • Horology. (in an escapement) the distance between the nearer corner of one pallet and the nearest tooth of the escape wheel when the other pallet arrests an escape tooth.
  • Chiefly South Midland U.S. shaker
  • a dance deriving from the twist.
  • Slang. the dried leaves of the marijuana plant.

What Is the Past Tense of Shake?

The past tense of shake is shook. This would be used in a sentence like: 

How Do You Conjugate Shake?

Here are some verb conjugations of the English verb shake including the past tense verb forms. Pay special attention since it is an irregular verb that doesn’t follow the rules of regular verbs. 

Infinitive: To Shake

Past Participle: Shaken 

Present Participle/Gerund: Shaking

Past Perfect Tense: Had shaken

Present Perfect Tense: Have shaken

Simple Present TenseSimple Past Tense (Preterite)Future Tense
I shakeshookAm shaking
You shakeshookAre shaking
He/she/it shakesshookIs shaking
We shakeshookAre shaking
They shakeshookAre shaking

The History and Origin of the Word

The first time in history that you can see the word shake being used is 900. In Middle English the word shake was spelled schaken, in Old English the word was spelled sceacan, and in Old Norse it was spelled shaka. 

Synonyms of Shake

  • Quiver
  • Tremble
  • Vibrate

Examples of the Word in Context


Next time you need to write the word shake, you will be well prepared for everything you need to know what it is and how to use it efficiently. If you are trying to learn English, you should feel confident with the different conjugations, the history of the word, and the definition whether it’s American English or British English.