AskDefine | Define shiver

Dictionary Definition



1 reflex shaking caused by cold or fear or excitement [syn: tremble, shake]
2 an almost pleasurable sensation of fright; "a frisson of surprise shot through him" [syn: frisson, chill, quiver, shudder, thrill, tingle]


1 tremble convulsively, as from fear or excitement [syn: shudder, throb, thrill]
2 shake, as from cold; "The children are shivering--turn on the heat!" [syn: shudder]

User Contributed Dictionary



Etymology 1

From a Germanic word, probably present in Old English though unattested, cognate with Old High German scivaro (German Shiefer ‘slate’).


  1. a fragment or splinter, especially of glass or stone


  1. to break into splinters or fragments
    • 1904: he found a plaster bust of Napoleon, which stood with several other works of art upon the counter, lying shivered into fragments. — Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Adventure of the Six Napoleons’ (Norton 2005, p.1034)
Derived terms

Etymology 2

Origin uncertain, perhaps an alteration of chavel.


  1. To tremble or shake, especially when cold or frightened.
    They stood outside for hours, shivering in the frosty air.


  1. The act or result of shivering.
    A shiver went up my spine.

Extensive Definition

Shivering is a bodily function in response to early hypothermia in warm-blooded animals. When the core body temperature drops, the shivering reflex is triggered. Muscle groups around the vital organs begin to shake in small movements in an attempt to create warmth by expending energy. Shivering can also be a response to a fever as a person may feel cold, though their core temperature is already elevated.
Located in the dorsomedial portion of the hypothalamus near the wall of the third ventricle is an area called the primary motor center for shivering. This area is normally inhibited by signals from the heat center in the anterior hypothalamic-preoptic area but is excited by cold signals from the skin and spinal cord. Therefore, this center becomes activated when the body temperature falls even a fraction of a degree below a critical temperature level.
Increased muscular activity results in wasted heat - here the heat is utilized for warmth.
Shivering can also appear after surgery. This is known as post-surgical shivering.

External links

shiver in German: Zittern
shiver in French: Frissonnement
shiver in Italian: Brivido
shiver in Hebrew: צמרמורת
shiver in Dutch: Koude rilling
shiver in Polish: Dreszcze
shiver in Portuguese: Arrepio

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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