Word of the Day


Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the act of throwing milkshake over a politician as a form of political protest

Origin and usage

The noun milkshake originated in the US in the late 19th century and was first spelled as an open compound, although today the closed form is generally used. It is formed from ‘milk’ and ‘shake’ meaning something that is shaken. The verb and gerund uses are so recent that they are not yet recorded in dictionaries.


A milkshake is often referred to simply as a shake, a word that has been applied more recently to similar drinks that do not necessarily contain milk and are designed to boost health. The term milkshake duck is so recent that it appears in few dictionaries, although there is an entry for it in Macmillan’s Open Dictionary and it also featured as one of Kerry Maxwell’s Buzzwords last year. The term, which was coined by Australian cartoonist Ben Ward in 2016, refers to someone who gains widespread positive attention on social media, only to be suddenly criticized when new information is made public. Even more recent are the use of milkshake as a verb with the related noun milkshaking. To milkshake someone is to throw milkshake over them as a form of political protest, while milkshaking is the act of doing this. Food items have long been used to express displeasure, whether it was rotten vegetables hurled at wrongdoers being held in the stocks or the pillory, or more recently eggs, flour or custard pies being thrown at politicians or public figures. The film and TV reviewing website Rotten Tomatoes is named after the tradition whereby theatre audiences would throw rotten fruit or vegetables at the stage when they regarded the performance as inadequate. Milkshaking is the latest manifestation of this long if not glorious tradition.


Milkshaking has gained so much popularity on social media that fast-food chains are even weighing in.”
(CBS News)

“Some have welcomed “milkshaking” with gusto and championed culprits as “everyday heroes”.”
(Huffington Post)

Related words

frappé, ice-cream soda, smoothie

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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