What Does Shaking in My Boots Mean?

Shaking in My Boots Meaning

Definition: To be terrified.

Origin of Shaking in My Meaning

The idea behind this idiom is that a person is so scared that he or she shaking. Trembling is a common response to fear.

This idiom, along with to shake in one’s shoes and to quake in one’s boots, comes from the 1800s. A similar expression is to shake like a leaf, which has the same meaning but is several hundred years older.

William Cobbett is recorded as having said this phrase in the early-1800s:

  • This is quite enough to make Corruption and all her tribe shake in their shoes.

It is unclear why people mention shoes or boots in this idiom. It is possible that it is because the person is shaking so hard that every part of him is trembling, including his clothes. Only the shoes would be still, because of their contact with the floor.

Examples of Shaking in My Meaning

shaking in your boots meaningIn this conversation, a mother and daughter are relaxing at home when they see something that scares them badly.

Daughter: Hi, Mom.

Mother: Hi, sweetheart. How was school today?

Daughter: It was fine. Wait…What’s that?

Mother: Oh my goodness! It’s a mouse!

Daughter: Ugh! Disgusting! Get it out!

Mother: I’m going to kill it!

Daughter: No, don’t kill it! Capture it and throw it outside!

Mother: I can’t capture it. I’m already shaking in my boots.

trembling in my bootsIn this example, two co-workers are discussing their new co-worker.

Dave: That new woman who works here scares me.

Ben: Why?

Dave: She never speaks to me, but I often find her creepily staring at me.

Ben: Maybe she is just socially awkward.

Dave: Maybe. But she really gives me the creeps. I was alone with her in the elevator the other day and I was shaking in my boots.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about a new spinoff of an already popular show.

  • A future scientist has a current showrunner shaking in his boots. Chuck Lorre, the man behind “Two and a Half Men,” “Mike & Molly” and “The Big Bang Theory,” said Tuesday during the Television Critics Association press tour that his latest project, “Young Sheldon,” has him nervous, according to TheWrap. –New York Post

This excerpt is from an article a baseball game.

  • “With our experience in our lineup, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be shaking in his boots more than we are,” Toronto slugger Jose Bautista said after Game 4. –Chicago Tribune


The expression to shake in one’ boots is another way to say to be very afraid.