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

shake your ˈhead

move your head from side to side as a way of saying ‘no’, or to show sadness, disagreement, disapproval, etc: She didn’t say anything — she just shook her head and sighed.
See also: head, shake
References in classic literature ?
It was explained to them as being a friendly arrangement and transfer, but they shook their heads grimly, and considered it an act of subjugation of their ancient allies.
When his suggestion did not meet with obvious agreement, he said, "We all here believe in Jesus as our savior." The rabbi and the Muslim representative shook their heads and said "No."
Some drivers clenched their jaws and shook their heads, and one girl flipped me the bird from her passenger seat.
Commentators shook their heads and wondered why Bush would block family planning aid to poor countries, a move that will only increase the number of abortions, maternal deaths, and impoverished children.
They shook their heads, looked at each other, and moved on.
When I said `Yes, it's me' they all shook their heads."