Definition of shimmy in US English:



  • 1A kind of ragtime dance in which the whole body shakes or sways.

    • ‘The 1920s, self-evidently, were the era of the bottle party and the Bright Young Things, the Charleston and the shimmy, cigarette holders and mock Tudor.’
    • ‘Ever get the urge to do the shimmy or the shake?’
    • ‘She did the shimmy all across her room, then she looked back to Greg.’
    • ‘After trouble teaching her the shimmy, he described his challenge to the camera: "Bristol is really shy, she's never performed in front of anybody and she's only in the public eye because of her mom."’
    • ‘In less than two years she had won 84 cups in nightclub contests for dancing the Charleston, or by imitating Bee Jackson, the shimmy expert.’
    • ‘It is an indescribably fast and furious combination of the slide, slop, funky chicken, mashed potato, camel walk, shimmy, applejack and quiver.’
    • ‘By the time flappers showed up in the '20s, opening and closing their knees and swinging their arms in the briefest of outfits, the can-can and the shimmy looked positively quaint.’
    • ‘The shimmy was named dance of the year.’
    • ‘Stripping and teasing, as well as dancing and prancing, began in the Jazz Age of the 1920s, when black performers became famous for doing the shimmy.’
    • ‘"If this was a shimmy competition you'd win first prize, but it's not," one of the judges said.’
    • ‘I think we all also felt sadness when Antoine announced this week that he would no longer be doing the shimmy.’
    • ‘"I suppose that is why you work with so many plays," said Charlotte, "showing everyone the proper way to do a shimmy or a waltz."’
    • ‘Her revue included vernacular forms like the shimmy, black bottom, shorty George and the cakewalk.’
    1. 1.1 A shake or sway of the body.
      • ‘We had to move our hips around and do a shimmy, so it took a while for us to actually get the hang of it.’
      • ‘In Egyptian cabaret the dancer uses body-centered movements and shimmies, often dancing in a fairly small space.’
      • ‘Even heard on your iPod, it should at least provide a few head-bops and maybe a shimmy or two.’
      • ‘I laced my arm around Keith's waist and gave a little shimmy and a wink.’
      • ‘She made a tiny, uncontrollable shimmy with her hips.’
      • ‘With her serene smiles, delicate shimmies, and fluttering fan, she cast a teasing spell of seduction.’
      • ‘She is vocally more fiery and seductive than her all-purpose shimmy and coy smile suggest.’
      • ‘She does a little shimmy and disappears.’
      • ‘It's the effortless glide of the catwalk; a confident, sexy sort of shimmy that only supermodels and drag queens seem to possess.’
      • ‘He beat the final defender with a delightful little shimmy before trotting round to touch down between the posts.’
      • ‘With a shimmy and a shuffle, that was all he needed to go in for a try.’
      • ‘With every twist and shimmy, every duck of the shoulder and cleverly chipped pass, he is looking more like his old self.’
      • ‘Luckily the performers had enough energy to rouse even this heat-weary crowd, with one dance after another full of high-powered jumps, stomps, shimmies, and kicks.’
      • ‘As soon as people travelling with small children are asked to come forward, there is a sly shimmy towards the door, which quickly turns into a total scrum as people are asked to proceed according to boarding-card number.’
      • ‘He made an array of feints and shimmies that took him past opponents with relative ease.’
      • ‘Even Auntie Alma got out of her wheelchair for a quick shimmy round the dancefloor.’
      • ‘Basic Dance concentrates on the fundamentals of belly dancing - tantalizing hip drops, shimmies, pulsating lower body moves, half-turns, wrist circles and shoulder movements.’
      • ‘Jimmy Spencer is certainly the man in form and a shimmy past his marker and a chip just over the bar enthralled the crowd.’
      • ‘As the rest rued their luck, he made a little champion's shimmy with his hips in front of the giant screen.’
      • ‘In the film, Salome does her sensual shimmy.’
  • 2Shaking, especially abnormal vibration of the wheels of a motor vehicle.

    ‘steering stabilizers reduce shimmy even from oversized tires’
    • ‘When I ride the bike unloaded, I don't experience shimmy.’
    • ‘I believe that a rider's build affects the potential for shimmy to occur: how heavy is the rider relative to the bike?’
    • ‘You are confusing shimmy with stability.’
    • ‘Since I reinstalled it, the boat has had a wicked shimmy.’
    • ‘Relaxing your arms through it helps to dampen it and pinch the top tube with your knees if it gets out of control, this stopped the shimmy completely in my case.’
    • ‘I just want to add my two-cent opinion to the subject of front-end shimmy.’
    • ‘Passing 120 knots, with an abort speed of 133 knots, I felt an increase in the nose wheel shimmy on my jet.’
    • ‘Sometimes, I have cured mild shimmy in a frame by changing out the fork, but many times, it has not worked.’
    • ‘And as you suggest, a rider may eliminate shimmy by changing his position (fore / aft weight distribution) on the bike.’
    • ‘The exception is if you have a shimmy in your front end.’
    • ‘Taxi back to the shop to have the damper serviced before flight anytime you experience a shimmy.’
    • ‘He had a bad crash while descending at 45 mph when he lost control due to front wheel shimmy.’
    • ‘If I strap my 10-pound mechanic's bag to the top of the rear rack, then the shimmy is so bad that hands free riding at any speed is out of the question.’
    • ‘What can I do to minimize shimmy with the frame and fork that I have?’
    • ‘The mechanic informs him that he cannot fix the shimmy.’
    • ‘The oversized top tubes also helped reduce the possibly of the shimmy occurring.’
    • ‘Now there is barely a hint of scuttle shake, and the odd shimmy and wobble you do still sense is no worse than in many saloons.’
    • ‘Greater fork trail gives the bike greater stability, but it does not necessarily reduce shimmy.’
    • ‘Whenever he drives too fast - whenever the needle on his speedometer goes above 40 - the car develops a dangerous shimmy.’
    • ‘Except for changing forks to get a longer rake, none of your other suggestions will help me eliminate the shimmy unless I get a new frame.’
  • 3archaic, informal

    another term for chemise
    • ‘Even though people called her poor and trash, she wore her red shimmy and smiled and studied like every other student.’
    • ‘We never wore our own clothes while we were there - we only wore a shimmy and a grey frock and one petticoat, made of the same as the frock, but no flannel petticoat or drawers.’


[no object]
  • 1Dance the shimmy.

    • ‘Thanks to shows like this, it is becoming increasingly less intimidating to shimmy on down to that dance floor.’
    • ‘He sambas, he shimmies, and he specialises in fast-footwork moves that delight the audience.’
    • ‘He shimmies and shakes, and tap-dances like a vaudeville pro across the bar and cabaret stage.’
    • ‘For the last minute, Clarence had been lying on his back, shimmying and kicking his legs, almost as if he was listening to James Brown and dancing, but upside down.’
    • ‘Constantine shimmied until beads of perspiration gathered on his shiny forehead.’
    • ‘As dancers shaked and shimmied, newcomers to the carnival lifted the crown for best in procession, best new entrant and best display band.’
    • ‘There are no Prohibition era shimmying jazz babes here.’
    • ‘For two 50-minute sets the crowd shrugged and shimmied to the rhythm of a more blithe and brilliant era.’
    • ‘She stopped and started shimmying to the music.’
    • ‘Tasha pulled me into a tight circle and started shimmying.’
    • ‘With the shimmying dance hall regulars of A Duke for the 90s, Washington creates compelling, identifiable characters.’
    • ‘Their sound is a suave, swaying, elegant indie that you just can't help shimmying to.’
    • ‘You will catch your mother shimmying to it.’
    • ‘Five slithery dancers shimmy as a singer in a leopard-print tuxedo belts out an energetic version of Prince's "Cream."’
    • ‘Rather like an old vaudeville hoofer, they must shimmy and shake with one eye one the audience and another on the white cane lurking in the wings.’
    • ‘He gyrates, shimmies, shakes his ass.’
    • ‘Dancers shimmied and the crowds waved club flags and banners.’
    1. 1.1 Shake or sway the body.
      • ‘Emma spun and shimmied and raised her arms and flicked her hair.’
      • ‘Proctor shimmied to lose his marker before rising high to send a looping header into the net.’
      • ‘Time and again he won possession inside the mid-field area, shimmied, dummied and generally toyed with his opponents before threading delightful passes to his team mates.’
      • ‘He twisted, turned and shimmied to create space.’
      • ‘Throughout the performance, flaming balls of ash floated down to the stage, narrowly missing dancers who shimmied out of the way just in time to avoid being burnt.’
      • ‘He beat one defender, shimmied left and right then placed the ball past the helpless keeper.’
      • ‘Next thing you know you've started shimmying your hips, thrown out your back and landed on the floor, writhing in pain.’
      • ‘She giggled, shimmied and cooed her way through the pre-awards interviews, her hair dyed flaming ginger-red styled in soft-permed pigtails, like a toy doll.’
      • ‘He picked up the ball on the edge of the area, shimmied and passed the ball into the six-yard box.’
      • ‘Drinkers flocked to the bourbon-and-beer joint to witness the coyotes (as the bartenders call themselves) insult patrons who ordered "froufrou" drinks, perform fire-breathing tricks, and shimmy atop the bar.’
      • ‘He danced, pranced, shimmied and shook; his energy was electric.’
      • ‘He shimmied away from his man and slotted home.’
      • ‘Hips will be shimmying and the smoke will be dense at the new restaurant when it opens in the next couple of weeks.’
      • ‘The striker shimmied to make space, then curled a right-foot shot into the bottom corner.’
      • ‘He shimmied his way through and hammered the ball past the keeper.’
      • ‘She mimes and shimmies through her songs.’
      • ‘More than twice he was enticed into a rash challenge as the Dutchman shimmied this way then that, but twice he was booked for them.’
      • ‘He shimmied slightly to give himself space in the centre of the park then launched a curling 20-yard shot into the right hand side of the net.’
      • ‘He then bumped and shimmied his way through to fist the ball over the bar.’
      • ‘She is so over-the-top that she's fun to watch: shimmying and shaking, flashing her teeth, and rolling her eyes.’
  • 2with adverbial of direction Move effortlessly; glide with a swaying motion.

    ‘her hair swung in waves as she shimmied down the catwalk’
    • ‘He quickly shimmied up the ladder to the hay loft, reaching down to help Amelia up.’
    • ‘But first he must do his rounds, getting up in the freezing cold to feed his reindeer before loading up his sleigh and shimmying down chimneys to deliver presents.’
    • ‘You couldn't shimmy up a drain pipe, could you?’
    • ‘I ran towards the base of the huge costal oak we have out the back and shimmied up the trunk.’
    • ‘When she slips into her skimpy silver two-piece in an unglamorous conference centre in Bournemouth she'll be confident that her sass and style will shine through as she shimmies down the catwalk.’
    • ‘Adrienne was shimmying down the hallway, oblivious to the world around her.’
    • ‘When Chris had offered to teach the kid to shimmy up the mast, he had replied with the simple words "I'm too clumsy".’
    • ‘He looked away from the cop and continued to shimmy along the wall.’
    • ‘If you do not have the benefit of living in a country where you can just go and shimmy up a tree in the garden to pick a coconut, search carefully for a good one in the shops.’
    • ‘She shimmied up the red carpet in a stunning silver halterneck gown.’
    • ‘I shimmied back over to the piano and held my glass (filled with red cordial) out to the appreciative audience.’
    • ‘Peeking out from behind the curtain, she waits for Buchanan to introduce her, then she shimmies toward the spotlight.’
    • ‘You run around climbing ladders, shimmying across ropes and running from one platform to another, collecting gems while avoiding the bad guys.’
    • ‘She shimmied over, introduced herself, and he said 'I'm delighted to meet you.'’
    • ‘He escaped by shimmying down a window curtain from the second story.’
    • ‘She shimmied down the ladder and waved up at the ship.’
    • ‘What could be nicer than to shimmy into the Caramel Room, sink into a lovely armchair and match a cake to your purchase?’
    • ‘The 18-year-old beauty shimmied down the catwalk showing off her stunning red evening dress.’
    • ‘He found a couple of kids who, for $5 each, shimmied up the trees and plucked the fruit.’
    • ‘He slid in quickly, and began to shimmy up using the sides for support.’
    1. 2.1shimmy up/down Climb quickly up or down by gripping with one's arms and legs.
      ‘he shimmies up the pole’
  • 3Shake or vibrate abnormally.

    ‘he braked hard and felt the car shimmy dangerously’
    • ‘I knew how the steering wheel felt, always shimmying a little under your hands because there was no way you could keep the front end aligned.’
    • ‘A frame that will not shimmy for a light rider often will shimmy under a heavier rider.’
    • ‘Plus, with its magical smoothness, it's unflappable in bumpy corners, carving where other bikes are bouncing and shimmying.’
    • ‘However, when I throw my rear panniers on and ride the bike at higher speeds, the bike will shimmy if I remove my hands from the bars.’
    • ‘Now road cars don't like circuits; they tend to behave like hysterical drag queens shrieking and shimmying through simple manoeuvres.’
    • ‘It is not an indicator of instability; even though the bike is highly unstable when shimmying, it can be an extremely stable bike just a few miles per hour slower.’
    jiggle, wriggle, twitch, flutter, joggle, wag, wobble, shake, twist, squirm, writhe, wave, quiver, jerk, bobble
    View synonyms


Early 20th century: of unknown origin.