My friend likes to repeatedly shake his leg up and down when idle. In Chinese, there is a specific term for this action that, if loosely translated, would be "vibrating leg."

Is there a more general or commonly accepted term in English for this specific habit? This habit is quite common and as a child I would do it, too. But I was reprimanded by my mother for doing so and that is why I know the Chinese term and now I am wondering what the English term is.


This is a form of fidgeting.

Collins defines fidget:

To move about restlessly.

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    Seems more like an adjective to me, like to describe someone because he was leg-shaking. And seems too general in my opinion. People can also get fidgety when they're nervous. – Tom Clancy Dec 23 '15 at 17:42

I can't really find a word, but apparently there is a syndrome termed for this and it is known as the restless leg syndrome.

According to Wikipedia,

RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move one's body to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It most commonly affects the legs, but can affect the arms, torso, head, and even phantom limbs. Moving the affected body part modulates the sensations, providing temporary relief.

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    I don’t think that’s the same thing at all. RLS is the feeling you have, for example, when you’re lying in bed trying to go to sleep but your legs feel “all squirmy” and you keep having to abruptly move them every few seconds. What OP describes seems like a nervous tic of some sort. I picture an eight year old boy pumping his leg up and down under his desk while sitting in the classroom. – Jim Dec 23 '15 at 23:07

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