A: They might slip up. Or he might slip up. Either way. They make him, my whole investigation goes south.

B: Your 'whole' investigation?

A: Some things shook loose, yeah. There are more moving pieces than expected. There might be more victims.

The speaker B though it's just 'an' investigation not 'whole' investigation. But the speaker B thinks there might be more victims and they need to investigate lots of cases.

So, my question is... 1. Does 'some things shook loose' mean 'some things changed'? 2. Does 'moving pieces' mean 'variable'?

I want to know what the speaker B said exactly. Please help me out! :-( (My native language is not English. Please be kind to me.)

  • 1
    The investigation shook things up (disrupted a previously stable situation) in such a way that some things which were previously hidden became known - they were metaphorically "exposed to view" in the newly-disrupted context (but they didn't necessarily change, except insofar as they "came to light"). Oct 4, 2019 at 12:32
  • 2
    It's maybe a mechanical metaphor. Something which "shakes loose" becomes a "moving piece". This should be deducible from the usual meaning of these words, although the rest of it is more jargon-like or metaphorical. A "moving piece" is perhaps something that moves independently and which must be accounted for.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 4, 2019 at 12:42
  • 1
    @Stuart F Exactly. If key components shake loose, the whole construction falls apart. Contrast 'keeping things tight'. Oct 4, 2019 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


To "shake loose" has several slightly different meanings, but in this context 'some things shook loose' does mean something has changed, probably more information / evidence has come to light.

'moving pieces' is likening the situation to the game of chess. It means that more people are involved in the investigation than expected. The whole of A's answer could be rephrased as

A: Some more information has been found. There are more people involved than expected. There might be more victims.

I gather that B is surprised that the investigation is bigger than he expected. I guess he was discussing one particular victim / crime and A explains that that is now only part of their investigation which now covers additional crimes that have since come to light (shaken lose).

  • Thank you so much! Now I can understand what B is exactly talking thanks to you! Oct 4, 2019 at 15:38

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