I'm looking for a simile or noun that can be used to describe something shaking violently. For example,

The room shook as hard as --insert thing that shakes violently--.

  • 1
    Why is the room shaking? Earthquake? Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 18:13
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    Shakespeare gave us 'shook like a field of corn'. But I'm finding it hard to set aside 'quaked like a duck', which isn't absent when one searches. // 'Shaking like a leaf' is archetypical, but means 'quivering'. Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 19:42
  • @Cascabel A tornado
    – UCYT5040
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 19:46
  • 1
    ... a freshly bathed dog
    – RedSonja
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 12:59
  • 1
    An off-balance washing machine on a fast spin.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:06

5 Answers 5


Perhaps the idiom shake like a leaf is suitable.

shake like a leaf: (thefreedictionary.com)

To tremble violently with fear or nervousness.


Synonyms for shake violently:

  1. Churn - Stir about, cause to froth; agitate violently; turn or throw up violently.

"Waves churning in the storm."

  1. Convulse - Shake violently; agitate or disturb severely.

"Tremors that convulsed the countryside."

The idiom shake like a leaf is well known, but it's also a cliche. I'd avoid it.

  • I would also avoid "shake like a leaf, but mainly because it implies a weak trembling - something a room is unlikely to do.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 18:17

Here are a few examples, some perhaps more useful than others:

The room shook as hard as...

  • an old-time Quaker revival
  • an addict in withdrawal
  • a Volkswagen bus filled with hippies
  • a Chihuahua in winter

Please forgive me...my sense of humor is a bit twisted. But maybe one of these will jog your creativity.

  • ELU deals solely with established (and verifiably so) usage. Creative metaphors (if decent) would be welcome on Writing.SE. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 13:48
  • @EdwinAshworth, since the OP is asking for similes or metaphors, perhaps this question should be migrated to Writing.SE.
    – RobJarvis
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 13:55
  • Conventional metaphors (you include one example) and other fixed phrases are obviously fine on ELU. Not 'creative[/'poetic/'literary/'novel/'unconventional] metaphors'. (see Nordquist) Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:28
  • @EdwinAshworth, consider me suitably chastised.
    – RobJarvis
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:29
  • Go and stand in the poets' corner for an hour. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:31


To cause to shake violently
An earthquake rocked the town. m-w

The earthquake rocked the building; the building rocked Chambers

It was an area of active volcanoes, and when the earthquake rocked his wooden house, he initially thought that it must be a nearby eruption. ref.

This is clearly not another of this word's meanings, to cause to sway back and forth, as in rock the cradle.

You choice may depend on how violent the shaking is, any subtleties about the movement, and the size of the object: ...bucked/wobbled/rocked like an off-balance washing maching.


You could say shake like hell, but note that it is informal:

Some people use like hell to emphasize how strong an action or quality is.

  • I used to shake like hell. The Sun (2015) (Collins)

It does remind you of the idea of all hell broke loose.

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