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Shake vs Tremble vs Quake vs Totter vs Quiver vs Shiver vs Shudder vs Quaver vs Wobble vs Teeter vs Shimmy vs Dither

Shaketremblequaketotterquivershivershudderquaverwobbleteetershimmydither are comparable when they mean to exhibit vibratory, wavering, or oscillating movement often as an evidence of instability.

Shake, the ordinary and the comprehensive term, can apply to any such movement, often with a suggestion of roughness and irregularity.

Tremble applies specifically to a slight, rapid shaking of the human body, especially when one is agitated or unmanned (as by fear, passion, cold, or fatigue).

The term may apply also to things that shake in a manner suggestive of human trembling.

Quake may be used in place of tremble but it commonly carries a stronger implication of violent shaking or of extreme agitation. Often the term suggests either an internal convulsion (as an earthquake or something suggestive of one) or an external event which rocks a person or thing to its foundations.

Totter usually suggests great physical weakness (as that associated with infancy, extreme old age, or disease); it therefore often connotes a shaking that makes movement extremely difficult and uncertain or that forebodes a fall or collapse.

Quiver suggests a slight, very rapid shaking comparable to the vibration of the strings of a musical instrument; it differs from tremble chiefly in being more often applied to things or in carrying a less necessary suggestion of fear or passion and a stronger implication of emotional tension.

Shiver and shudder usually imply a momentary or short-lived quivering, especially of the flesh.

Shiver typically suggests the effect of cold, but it may apply to a similar quivering that results from an emotional or mental cause (as an anticipation, a premonition, a foreboding, or a vague fear) or to a sudden, often seeming, quivering of a thing.

Shudder usually suggests the effect of something horrible or revolting; physically it implies a sudden sharp quivering that for the moment affects the entire body or mass.

Quaver sometimes implies irregular vibration or fluctuation, especially as an effect of something that disturbs, but often it stresses tremulousness especially in reference to voices and utterances affected by weakness or emotion.

Wobble implies an unsteadiness that shows itself in tottering, or in a quivering characteristic of a mass of soft flesh or of a soft jelly, or in a shakiness characteristic of rickety furniture.

Teeter implies an unsteadiness that reveals itself in seesawing motions.

Shimmy suggests the fairly violent shaking of the body from the shoulders down which is characteristic of the dance of that name and, therefore, may suggest vibratory motions of an abnormal nature.

Dither implies a shaking or a hesitant vacillating movement often as a result of nervousness, confusion, or lack of purpose.