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From Middle English quaken, from Old English cwacian (to quake, tremble, chatter), from Proto-Germanic *kwakōną (to shake, quiver, tremble), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷog- (to shake, swing), related to Old English cweccan (to shake, swing, move, vibrate, shake off, give up) (see quitch), Dutch kwakkelen (to ail, be ailing), German Quackelei (chattering), Danish kvakle (to bungle), Latin vēxō (toss, shake violently, jostle, vex), Irish bogadh (a move, movement, shift, change).



quake (plural quakes)

  1. A trembling or shaking.
    We felt a quake in the apartment every time the train went by.
  2. An earthquake, a trembling of the ground with force.
    California is plagued by quakes; there are a few minor ones almost every month.



quake (third-person singular simple present quakes, present participle quaking, simple past and past participle quaked or (archaic) quoke or (obsolete) quook)

  1. (intransitive) To tremble or shake.
    I felt the ground quaking beneath my feet.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Philip Sidney
      She stood quaking like the partridge on which the hawk is ready to seize.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, chapter III, in Nobody, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, published 1915, OCLC 40817384:
      Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To cause to tremble or shake.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act I Scene I.
      If Cupid have not spent all his quiver in / Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene II.
      Now could I drink hot blood / And do such bitter business as the bitter day / Would quake to look on.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare, Henry VI, part II, Act IV, Scene VIII.
      Who honours not his father, Henry the fifth, that made all France to quake, Shake he his weapon at us, and pass by.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.
      Dorus threw Pamela behind a tree; where she stood quaking like the partridge on which the hawk is even ready to seize.
    • KJV, Bible, Nahum 1:5.
      The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burnt at his presence.
    • KJV, Bible, Ezekiel 12:18.
      Son of man eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and carefulness.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.




  1. First-person singular present of quaken.
  2. Imperative singular of quaken.
  3. First-person singular subjunctive I of quaken.
  4. Third-person singular subjunctive I of quaken.