AskDefine | Define shimmy

Dictionary Definition



1 an abnormal wobble in a motor vehicle (especially in the fromt wheels); "he could feel the shimmy in the steering wheel"
2 a woman's sleeveless undergarment [syn: chemise, shift, slip, teddies, teddy]
3 lively dancing (usually to ragtime music) with much shaking of the shoulders and hips


1 tremble or shake; "His voice wobbled with restrained emotion" [syn: wobble]
2 dance a shimmy [also: shimmied]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. An abnormal vibration, especially in the wheels of a vehicle.
  2. A dance that was popular in the 1920s.
  3. A sleeveless chemise.


An abnormal vibration, especially in the wheels of a vehicle
A dance that was popular in the 1920s
A sleeveless chemise


  1. To climb sometime (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.
  2. To vibrate abnormally, as a broken wheel.
  3. In the context of "intransitive|rare": To shake the body as if dancing the shimmy.


  • (climb a pole) shinny (UK, Canada)


To climb sometime (e.g. a pole) gradually
To vibrate abnormally, as a broken wheel
To shake the body as if dancing the shimmy

Extensive Definition

A shimmy is a dance move in which the body is held still, except for the shoulders, which are alternated back and forth. When the right shoulder goes back, the left one comes forward. It may help to hold the arms out slightly bent at the elbow, and when the shoulders are moved, keep the hands in the same position. In 1917 a dance-song titled "Shim-Me-Sha_Wobble" by Spencer Williams was published, as was "The Jazz Dance, which included the "Shimmy-She", among others. Flappers performed this dance in the 1920s. The origin of the name is often attributed to Gilda Gray, a Polish emigrant to America. An anecdote says that when she was asked about her dancing style, she answered, in heavy accent, "I'm shaking my chemise". However, in an interview Gilda denied having said this, and earlier usages of the word are recorded.
The move is also known under different names in various folk dances, in Gypsy dances. In Russian this move is called "Cyganochka", or "gypsy girl", and is done by gypsy female dancers to produce a chime of costume decorations made of the sewn-on coins.
The dance move with this name is used in various modern dances.
The shimmy is also a class of belly dance moves. Depending on the desired effect, style, teacher, and country of origin of the particular dance, a shimmy might be executed differently, but altogether, the shimmy will manifest as a fast shaking or shuddering movement that can be rhythmic or arrhythmic. The movement may be localized, such as in the hips, shoulder, chest, etc., or the move might be loose and general, reverberating through the entire body. Shimmies in belly dance can also have orientation, such as an up/down movement or a twisting movement of the hips.

External links

  • Shimmy at "Dance History Archives"
shimmy in German: Shimmy (Tanz)
shimmy in French: Shimmy
shimmy in Japanese: シミー
shimmy in Polish: Shimmy
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