shake hands

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shake hands (third-person singular simple present shakes hands, present participle shaking hands, simple past shook hands, past participle shaken hands)

  1. To grasp another person's hands as an expression of greeting, farewell, agreement, etc.
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter II, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      Gerald was enthusiastic. After a while they shook hands, it being time to separate. And for a long time Selwyn sat there alone in the visitors' room, absent-eyed, facing the blazing fire of cannel coal.
    • 2020 May 27, Mandy Oaklander, “The Coronavirus Killed the Handshake and the Hug. What Will Replace Them?”, in Time:
      Shaking hands is probably the most common form of social touch in the U.S., and it’s thought to have originated many centuries ago as assurance that neither party was carrying a weapon.

Related terms[edit]


  • Tok Pisin: sekan, sekhan
    • Rotokas: sekari



shake hands (plural not attested)

  1. (Ireland) an instance of shaking hands; a handshake
    • 1834, William Carleton, "Shane Fadh's Wedding", Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry, Volume 1, p.178 (W. F. Wakeman):
      Many a shake hands did I get from the neighbours’ sons, wishing me joy
    • 1909, Frederick Lawton, translation of Jules Verne, The Chase of the Golden Meteor, p.44 (London: Grant Richards)
      He exchanged greetings with his rival, but their shake-hands was rather a cold one, and each looked the other askance, as if distrust was in their hearts.
    • 1967 July 27, Jack McQuillan, Livestock Marts Bill, 1967: Second Stage (Resumed). Seanad Debates, Vol.63 No.12 p.4 col.928:
      It was the first time a Minister ever left the country without a ceremonial goodbye and a shake hands at the airport, with the tall hats being doffed.
    • 2015 February 1, Brian D'Arcy, quoted in Cork Examiner "Terry Wogan's friend Father Brian D'Arcy tells of their emotional final handshake":
      I wasn’t sure if it was goodbye, but as soon as I saw Terry I knew it was the last time I was going to see him, and the shake hands was the last shake hands I’d ever have with him.