hi·​jack | \ ˈhī-ˌjak How to pronounce hijack (audio) \
variants: or less commonly
hijacked also highjacked; hijacking also highjacking; hijacks also highjacks

Definition of hijack

transitive verb

1a : to steal (goods in transit) by stopping a vehicle Shipping cargo internationally, however, is rife with pitfalls. Shipments may be stolen, hijacked, destroyed, damaged or delayed.— David Drake A shipment of … albums by British pop idol Sting was hijacked in transit while being transported from Germany to an Italian warehouse.— Willem Hoos At last count, Parmalat had given away 5.2 million stuffed animals in a massive Brazilian promotion, not including the truckload of furry animals hijacked earlier this year by thieves too impatient to collect their own Parmalat labels.— Laurel Wentz
b : to commandeer (a vehicle in transit) "… One day his truck was hijacked, probably by deserters, and he was wandering around and decided to go back to a village where he had met a young woman that he rather liked. …"— Charles Glass often, specifically : to commandeer (a flying airplane) usually by coercing the pilot In June 1976, an Air France Airbus was hijacked in Athens … and flown at gunpoint to Uganda's primary airport … Radio Times A man claiming to have a bomb attempted to hijack a Pegasus Airlines plane from Ukraine on Friday and take it to Sochi, where the Winter Olympics were just beginning. — Brian Resnick and Matt Berman
c : to stop and steal from (a vehicle in transit) Police are hunting two men who hijacked a truck at knifepoint and made off with its … load of whisky.Commercial Motor (Sutton, England)
d : kidnap A robber who claimed he was hijacked from home … to rob a corner shop has been jailed for four years.Evening Gazette (Middlesborough, England)
2a : to take or take control of (something) as if by hijacking … hackers hijacked the accounts of high-profile Twitter users …— Queenie Wong To reproduce, the virus infects a cell and hijacks the cell's protein-making machinery.The Springfield (Massachusetts) Union-News … distinguished themselves from the artsy types, who they believed had hijacked punk from "the real kids" …— Simon Reynolds often, specifically : to change the topic or focus of (something, such as a conversation) : redirect Don't hijack threads. Burger King wouldn't hand out flyers in front of a Chipotle, so why would you want to hawk your business on an unrelated Facebook thread …? — Jennifer Chang All of this strife is because Idaho's political machinery is enabling isolated and extremist visions from small patches of Idaho to hijack the conversation. — Mike Satz It's sad that sex scandals continue to hijack attention from economic, educational and health care issues. — Barbara Lippert
b : to subject to extortion or swindling hijacks them into spending nearly a billion dollars …— Dave Armstrong

Other Words from hijack

hijack noun, plural hijacks
hijacker noun, plural hijackers

Synonyms for hijack


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Examples of hijack in a Sentence

He hijacked a truck, threatening the driver at gunpoint. A band of robbers hijacked the load of furs from the truck. A group of terrorists hijacked the plane. The organization has been hijacked by radicals.
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Recent Examples on the Web In fact, authoritarian regimes are often able to hijack these sorts of international institutions -- and the very language of freedom -- in order to further entrench their power. Leopoldo López And Uriel Epshtein, CNN, 9 Dec. 2021 How unfortunate, not to mention rude and obnoxious, that your significant other can’t control his impulse to hijack other people’s conversations on these subjects. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, 2 Jan. 2022 After the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Trump was banned from social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, limiting his ability to spread misinformation and hijack the news of the day. Michael D'antonio, CNN, 14 Dec. 2021 Rather than idly sit by and live under Internet Explorer's rule, Google's plan was to hijack Microsoft's browser with various plugins. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, 12 Dec. 2021 Two mutations are at a site the virus uses to pry its way into those cells and hijack them for its own replication. Melissa Healy, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Nov. 2021 Two mutations are at a site the virus uses to pry its way into those cells and hijack them for its own replication. Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 2021 Andy Grotelueschen, resplendent in a shabby Santa Claus costume), who tried to hijack an airplane with which to assassinate Richard Nixon. Marilyn Stasio, Variety, 14 Nov. 2021 Four pseudonymous men hijack a southbound No. 6 train, plowing it to a stop just below the 28th Street station, holding a full carload of passengers for a cash ransom. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 6 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hijack.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hijack

1923, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hijack

origin unknown

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Statistics for hijack

Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hijack.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hijack. Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for hijack



English Language Learners Definition of hijack

: to stop and steal (a moving vehicle)
: to steal (something) from a moving vehicle that you have stopped
: to take control of (an aircraft) by force


hi·​jack | \ ˈhī-ˌjak \
hijacked; hijacking

Kids Definition of hijack

1 : to stop and steal or steal from a moving vehicle
2 : to take control of (an aircraft) by force

Other Words from hijack

hijacker noun


transitive verb
hi·​jack | \ ˈhī-ˌjak \

Legal Definition of hijack

: to seize possession or control of (a vehicle) from another person by force or threat of force specifically : to seize possession or control of (an aircraft) especially by forcing the pilot to divert the aircraft to another destination

Other Words from hijack

hijack noun
hijacker noun

More from Merriam-Webster on hijack

Nglish: Translation of hijack for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hijack for Arabic Speakers


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