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Difference between Give someone a shake and Give someone the shake

give someone a shake—(coll.)

1. shake a sleeper to rouse him:

  • I thought he was sleeping, so I gave him a shake to wake him.

2. rouse smb. to action:

  • Danny was not playing as well as he is now at the start of the season. We needed some way to give him a shake.

3. make a person suffer a nervous shock:

  • It gave me such a shake as I never had before; I haven’t felt like myself ever since.

Note: The expression is not related in meaning to the phrase give someone a fair shake(coll.) give smb. fair treatment:

  • The man did not believe that the judge would give him a fair shake at his trial.

give someone the shake —(coll.) get away or escape from a person without his noticing:

  • “Do you think he followed you?” “I gave him the shake in the crowd.”