What is the difference between “mover” and “shaker” in “mover and shaker”?

I first checked the OED and they seem similar to me.



colloquial (originally U.S.). A person who initiates events and influences people; a dynamic and influential person. Chiefly in mover and shaker


a. One who or something which shakes (in the transitive senses of the verb). Also in mover and shaker, shaker and mover (U.S.), a person who influences events, a person who gets things done.

Then I checked the origin of “movers and shakers”. This website does give an explanation for “shakers”, but not “movers”.

By 'shakers', O'Shaughnessy didn't mean…..but simply those who shake the foundations of conventional thinking by the strength of their imagination and vision.


  • 3
    It's a colloquial phrase. The meanings are not separate when used as this phrase. Your OED definition for "mover" correctly describes the phrase's meaning. I personally have taken the "and shaker" part to mean "shake things up", as in change the status quo as part of influencing events. Oct 12, 2019 at 13:49

1 Answer 1


Any dictionary will give a definition of mover:

: one that moves or sets something in motion

As a kind of idiom, the individual words in mover and shaker are not really meant to be understood individually.

However, if you really want to do so, you could consider them in this way:

  • Mover: Someone who moves things, changing inactivity into activity and making people work.
  • Shaker: Someone who challenges the way things are normally done, redesigning processes and making everything run more efficiently.

By combining the two, not only does the person make things happen, but makes them happen in a better way.

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