shake one's head


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shake (one's) head

1. Literally, to rotate one's head back and forth (to the left and to the right) to indicate a negative response, disagreement, or disapproval. When I asked the little girl if she knew where her mommy was, she just shook her head. I see you back there shaking your head no. Is there something you disagree with?
2. To express confusion or bewilderment about something that has just happened or been revealed. This usage does not always indicate a literal movement of the head. When he abruptly exited the meeting without explanation, we all just sat there shaking our heads. Just shaking my head right now. What was that all about?
See also: head, shake

shake one's head

Express disapproval, dissent, or doubt, as in That announcement had us shaking our heads in dismay. This expression, which can be used both literally (for moving one's head from side to side) and figuratively, dates from about 1300.
See also: head, shake
References in periodicals archive ?
Chamberlain's impression and shake one's head about such naivety.
But to shake one's head in disgust and then forget about it would be unforgiveable.
In one sense, it's hard not to shake one's head at the Bush administration's rejection, on grounds that it's excessive, of Sen.
King's reminder that it isn't always enough to shake one's head at injustice.