noun pl. shim·mies
- Abnormal vibration or wobbling, as of the wheels of an automobile.
- A dance popular in the 1920s, characterized by rapid shaking of the body.
- A chemise.
intransitive verbshim·mied, shim·my·ing, shim·mies
- To vibrate or wobble abnormally.
- To shake the body in or as if in dancing the shimmy.
- To shinny. See Usage note below.
Origin of shimmy Perhaps from shimmy
alteration of chemise
Usage Note: The shimmy is a dance that was popular in the 1920s and is characterized by rapid shaking of the body. To shimmy means “to shake the body in or as if in dancing the shimmy.” Shimmy, possibly an alteration of the word chemise, has no etymological connection to the similar-sounding verb shinny, meaning “to climb by gripping and pulling alternately with the hands and legs.” Recently, however, the verb shimmy has been used to describe the action of shinnying . In addition to their similarity in sound, the motions described by both verbs involve back-and-forth movements of the body. It's understandable, then, how this new sense of shimmy arose, and it has gained marginal acceptance by our Usage Panel. In our 2015 survey, 53 percent of the Panelists accepted the sentence Tania shimmied up the tree and picked some apples . Interestingly, only 66 percent of the Panelists accepted the use of shinny in the same sentence, suggesting that there remains confusion even among wordsmiths over which is the most appropriate word choice to describe this type of climbing. However, when it comes to the use of shinny (traditionally “to climb”) in place of shimmy (traditionally “to dance”), the Panelists are resolute in holding to the traditional meanings, with 97 percent finding the use of shinny in the sentence The couple shinnied on the dance floor to the samba music unacceptable.
- An abnormal vibration, especially in the wheels of a vehicle.
- A dance that was popular in the 1920s.
- (rare) A sleeveless chemise.
(third-person singular simple present shimmies, present participle shimmying, simple past and past participle shimmied)
- To climb something (e.g. a pole) gradually (e.g. using alternately one's arms then one's legs.)
- He shimmied up the flagpole.
- The static made her dress shimmy up her leg.
- (intransitive) To vibrate abnormally, as a broken wheel.
- (intransitive, rare) To shake the body as if dancing the shimmy.