give (someone) the shakes

give (someone) the shakes

1. To cause someone's body to tremble or shake involuntarily, as due to fear, unease, anxiety, or a reaction to (or withdrawal from) a substance, such as caffeine, drugs, or alcohol. Speaking in front of large groups of people always gives me the shakes. Tea is a great way to get a boost in the morning, and it won't give you the shakes the way coffee does. I'm trying to get sober and haven't had a drink in four days, but it's giving me the shakes something fierce.
2. To instill an intense sensation of fear, unease, or anxiety in someone; to intimidate someone to such a degree as might produce such a response. The attorney for the prosecution is renowned for her fierceness, able to give even the most hardened criminals the shakes. The New Zealand rugby team always performs a traditional war dance called the "haka" before a match so as to give their opponents the shakes.
See also: give, shake
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