Word of the Day: Shiver

shiver

shiv-er / shĭv-ər

noun

1. a tremble or the act of trembling or shaking

A cold shiver was creeping through his veins. 

From “The Illustrious Prince” by E. Phillips Oppenheim, 1866 – 1946

2. the shivers, an instance or attack of quivering or trembling

The ruined houses and abandoned outbuildings are guaranteed to give even the biggest skeptic the shivers

Dana Hanson, “10 Reasons to Visit Portlock, Alaska”, ‘Money Inc.’, www.moneyinc.com/visit-portlock-alaska, accessed January 19, 2022

3. a fragment, splinter or sliver

It was a day of amber sunlight, but there was a shiver of coming winter in the air. 

From “My Antonia” by Willa Cather, 1873 – 1947

verb

1. to shake or quiver as from feeling cold, afraid or excited

It is folly to shiver over last year’s snow.

Richard Whately, 1787 – 1863

2. to vibrate, as from the force of wind

The tide was on the turn, and the horrid sand began to shiver.

From “The Moonstones” by Wilkie Collins, 1824 – 1889

3. in sailing, to cause the sails to luff; of sails, to luff or flap

When the Black Eagle was exactly two ship-lengths ahead, he gave the order to shiver the sails, and instantly the sheets of white canvas were laid flat against the masts, spilling the wind. 

From “Silver Storm” by Cynthia Wright, ? – 

4. to shatter or splinter or to cause to shatter or splinter

The ice was not only broken; it was shivered into a million fragments.

P. G. Wodehouse, 1881 – 1975

etymology

As a verb meaning to shake from fear or cold, from the Middle English verb shiveren (shiver), an alteration of the Middle English verb chiveren of the same meaning and, perhaps, derived from the Anglo-Saxon noun cealf (jaw) in reference to the chattering of teeth when one shivers.

As a verb meaning to break into small pieces or splinters and as a noun meaning a small piece or splinter, through the Middle English noun shiver/shivere (slice, fragment, chip, splinter) of Germanic origin in general and akin to the Middle Low German noun schever/schiver (splinter).

Thank you to Allen Ward for providing the etymology for shiver.