Welcome to “Dazzling Phrasal Verbs”!
This new section is aimed at my more advanced learners. In each instalment I’m going to show you three phrasal verbs based on the same word, and we’re going to kick off with ‘shake’.
1. shake off
Meaning: get rid of sth/sb unpleasant or annoying, free yourself
I’m finding it hard to shake off this cold. I’ve had it for over a week.
The paparazzi had been following Tom around all day. Eventually he managed to shake them off by swapping motorbikes with a friend.
When used figuratively ‘shake’ is often used without ‘off’. ⇨ The singer is finding it hard to shake/shake off his bad-boy image.
It can be used literally too, but you need ‘off’, otherwise you’re changing the meaning.
The dog came out of the pool and shook the water off.
I tried to put the cute little hat on the cat’s head but she just kept shaking it off.
2. shake up (1)
Meaning: upset or frighten sb (so much that they feel the effects for a while)
Seeing the dreadful living conditions at the old people’s home really shook Sally up.
Even though nobody was badly hurt John was quite shaken up by the accident. He had difficulty sleeping for days.
3. shake up (2)
Meaning: make major changes in order to make a system, company, etc more effective.
When the new owner of the restaurant chain warned his staff that he would be shaking things up, some people were afraid they might lose their job.
With this meaning of ‘shake up’ you have the noun ‘shake-up’ ⇨ Many people think the education system is in need of a good shake-up.
(Photo: Can Stock Photo/damedeeso)