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intr.v. trem·bled, trem·bling, trem·bles
1. To shake involuntarily, as from excitement or anger; quake. See Synonyms at shake.
2. To feel fear or anxiety: I tremble at the very thought of it.
3. To vibrate or quiver: leaves trembling in the breeze.
1. The act or state of trembling.
2. trembles A convulsive fit of shaking. Used with the.
3. trembles(used with a sing. verb)
a. Poisoning of domestic animals, especially cattle and sheep, caused by eating white snakeroot or the composite plant Isocoma pluriflora of the southwest United States and northern Mexico, and characterized by muscular tremors and weakening. Also called milk sickness.
b. Any of several other animal diseases characterized by trembling, such as louping ill.

[Middle English tremblen, from Old French trembler, from Vulgar Latin *tremulāre, from Latin tremulus, trembling; see tremulous.]

trem′bler n.
trem′bling·ly adv.
trem′bly adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  1. Body quivers like a dancing animal’s —Maureen Howard
  2. Felt a tremor … like an earthquake in a swamp —William Getz

    The tremor described is the shiver that goes through a person.

  3. (The handkerchief) flapped like a jib in a crosswind —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  4. (Ali’s brain) flickered and wavered like a candle flame in a draft —Gerald Kersh
  5. (My tongue) fluttered like a dead leaf —George Garrett
  6. Fluttered like paper in the wind —Gertrude Atherton
  7. Fluttering around like birds in a thicket —Ariel Dorfman
  8. Fluttering around … like a yardful of hens —Harvey Swados
  9. Fluttering in the wind, like a schooner in full rig —Anatole France

    This referred to a feather fluttering on a hat, and while feathered hats have not been in style for many years, the comparison is not limited to this descriptive reference point.

  10. Fluttering like a white moth —O. Henry
  11. Fluttering like pigeons —Christina Rossetti
  12. Flutter like large butterflies —Oscar Wilde
  13. Her hands and face shook like Jell-O —Joseph Heller

    Trembling flesh and pudding make for vivid similes. Some variants: “Quivering all over … like a dish of jelly on a rickety table” (Nikolay Leskov); “The whole huge torso, the shoulders, arms and breast and the great heaving belly, would shake and tremble like a hogshead full of jelly.” (Thomas Wolfe)

  14. His whole body was shaking and the more he tried to control it, the more violently it shook, as though the lines of communications between his brain and his muscles had been cut —Margaret Millar
  15. (Nostrils) pulse like a heart on fire —Gertrude Atherton
  16. Quake like mice when the cat is mentioned —Honoré de Balzac
  17. (His whole face) quivered convulsively as if pricked by pins and needles —Luigi Pirandello
  18. [An evening gown] Quivered like a butterfly about to take wing —Dorothea Straus
  19. Quivered like a pointer dog —Jonathan Gash
  20. Quivered like a sob —Conrad Aiken
  21. Quivered like forest-leaves —Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  22. Quivering … like a wounded bird —Leo Tolstoy
  23. Quiver like a twig in a gale —L. P. Hartley
  24. Quiver like tuning forks —Peter De Vries
  25. (The Saab) rattled like a trayful of china —Scott Spencer
  26. Shaking all over like someone attached to an electric reducing belt —Cornell Woolrich
  27. Shaking like a dog shittin’ peach pits —Ken Kesey
  28. Shaking like a drunk the morning-after —Clarence Major
  29. Shaking like a lamb led to slaughter —Sholom Aleichem
  30. Shaking like an ague-fit —William Faulkner
  31. Shaking like a piece of grass —Louise Erdrich
  32. Shaking like a treed raccoon —Harvey Swados
  33. Shaking like a wet spaniel —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  34. (Her breath) shaking like turning leaves —Mary Hedin
  35. Shiver as at the sight of a bug or a repulsively dirty man in the street —Colette
  36. Shivered, like a swimmer who has tested the water with a toe and found it exceeding chill —Stefan Zweig
  37. Shivering like a puppy —Ross Macdonald
  38. Shivering like a whippet on a cold day —Jilly Cooper
  39. Shiver like a flame —George Garrett
  40. Shiver like ostriches in a zoo —Marge Piercy
  41. Shivers like a fish in a net —George Garrett
  42. Shook like a harpstring —Beryl Markham
  43. [A hand that had been beaten] shook like a loose leaf in the air —James Joyce
  44. Shook like an autumn leaf —Dante Gabriel Rossetti

    To “shake like an aspen leaf” is a familiar variant. “I shook like a leaf … like a little leaf in a big storm” from a short story, The Actor, by Nunally Johnson exemplifies the simile extended.

  45. (His whole body) shook like a thunder-stricken tree —Yisrael Zarchi
  46. (His face was gray and) shook like a torn sail —Malcolm Cowley
  47. Shook like a wet mutt [describing a dynamited building] —Tom Robbins
  48. Shudder as if she were passing a cemetery —Elsa Schiaparelli
  49. Shuddered all over, like a dog that recognizes the vet and smells its oncoming death —Frank Tuohy
  50. Shuddered like a broken doll —Louise Erdrich
  51. Shudders like an epileptic —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  52. Shudders … like a woman gently coming —Diane Ackerman
  53. Shuddery like a hooked fish or a stallion —W. D. Snodgrass
  54. Silently quivering like the waters of a lake when the wind blows offshore —Yitzhak Shenhar
  55. Swayed like the tail of a dog attempting to be friendly —F. van Wyck Mason
  56. Sways like a broken stalk —Elizabeth Bishop
  57. (Her body) sways like a willow in spring wind —Robert Penn Warren
  58. Sways like tropical seaweed —Lawrence Durrell
  59. Trembled like an adolescent —Robert Silverberg
  60. Trembled tensely like a released harp-string —Joseph Conrad
  61. Tremble like an aspirin —Ogden Nash
  62. Trembling as if something were shaking him —Ben Hecht
  63. Trembling like a colt —Lawrence Durrell
  64. Trembling like an invalid —Mavis Gallant
  65. Trembling like a string —Ivan Turgenev
  66. (Knees) trembly like water —Peggy Bennett
  67. Shudder as if she were passing a cemetery —Elsa Schiaparelli
  68. Tremulous as a plant in a stream —Vita Sackville-West
  69. Twitching like a hooked fish —Gerald Kersh
  70. Twitching like a skate [fish] in a frying pan —Lawrence Durrell
  71. An unexpected shudder rippled over her body, like a cold wind moving across water —Madeleine L’Engle
  72. Wobble like a skittle —Graham Swift
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Trembling - a shaky motiontrembling - a shaky motion; "the shaking of his fingers as he lit his pipe"
motion - a state of change; "they were in a state of steady motion"
tremolo - (music) a tremulous effect produced by rapid repetition of a single tone or rapid alternation of two tones
tremor - shaking or trembling (usually resulting from weakness or stress or disease)
Adj.1.Trembling - vibrating slightly and irregularlytrembling - vibrating slightly and irregularly; as e.g. with fear or cold or like the leaves of an aspen in a breeze; "a quaking bog"; "the quaking child asked for more"; "quivering leaves of a poplar tree"; "with shaking knees"; "seemed shaky on her feet"; "sparkling light from the shivering crystals of the chandelier"; "trembling hands"
unsteady - subject to change or variation; "her unsteady walk"; "his hand was unsteady as he poured the wine"; "an unsteady voice"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


Related words
fear tremophobia
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


A. ADJtembloroso
B. Ntemblor m, estremecimiento m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


ntremblement m
with trembling fingers → d'une main tremblante
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


adj handszitternd; voice, lip alsobebend
n (of person, hand)Zittern nt; (of voice, ground, building also)Beben nt


trembling grass
nZittergras nt
trembling poplar
nZitterpappel f, → Espe f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


1. adjtremante
2. ntremore m, tremito
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995
References in classic literature ?
The Nile.--The Trembling Mountain.--A Remembrance of the Country.--The Narratives of the Arabs.--The Nyam-Nyams.--Joe's Shrewd Cogitations.--The Balloon runs the Gantlet.--Aerostatic Ascensions.--Madame Blanchard.
"Father wanted me at home," said Maggie, with a slight trembling of the lip.
Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke.
The doctor with his shirt sleeves tucked up, without a coat, pale and with a trembling jaw, came out of the room.
He passed his trembling hand all about the hole, trying to think it possible that his eyes had deceived him; then he held the candle in the hole and examined it curiously, trembling more and more.
He advanced on tip-toe, trembling, frightened at the noise his feet made on the floor, his heart rent by a nameless agony.
When Rokoff saw what it was that stalked him his shrieks for help filled the air, as with trembling knees he stood, as one paralyzed, before the hideous death that was creeping upon him.
For if a "missing" ship has never turned up within the memory of seamen of my generation, the name of an "overdue" ship, trembling as it were on the edge of the fatal heading, has been known to appear as "arrived."
"Father, I don't blame you," replied Ginevra, with more gentleness than her trembling mother expected.
My breath is coming in jerks--deep down in my breast I can hear it sobbing and trembling. .
The nervous excitement of which we speak pursued Valentine even in her sleep, or rather in that state of somnolence which succeeded her waking hours; it was then, in the silence of night, in the dim light shed from the alabaster lamp on the chimney-piece, that she saw the shadows pass and repass which hover over the bed of sickness, and fan the fever with their trembling wings.
But a cry stopped him; a cry of agony, uttered by poor Rosa, who, trembling and pale, with her arms raised to heaven, made her appearance behind the grated window, and thus interposed between her father and her friend.