shake·​down | \ ˈshāk-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce shakedown (audio) \

Definition of shakedown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an improvised bed (such as one made up on the floor)
2 : a boisterous dance
3 : an act or instance of shaking someone down especially : extortion
4 : a thorough search
5 : a process or period of adjustment
6 : a testing under operating conditions of something new (such as a ship) for possible faults and defects and for familiarizing the operators with it

shake down

shook down; shaken down; shaking down; shakes down

Definition of shake down (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to take up temporary quarters
b : to occupy an improvised or makeshift bed
2a : to become accustomed especially to new surroundings or duties
b : to settle down

transitive verb

1 : to obtain money from in a deceitful, contemptible, or illegal manner racketeers shaking down store owners for protection
2 : to make a thorough search of
3 : to bring about a reduction of
4 : to give a shakedown test to shook down the vessel before its maiden voyage

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Examples of shakedown in a Sentence

Noun He was the victim of a shakedown by a street gang. The guards conducted a shakedown of the prisoners' cells to look for weapons. They're putting the system through a shakedown. Verb the rumor is that he started his career shaking people down as an enforcer for the mob
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The man secretly recorded the conversation and, calling it a shakedown, turned it over to authorities. Jess Bravin, WSJ, 3 June 2021 The second part involves the alleged shakedown of marijuana vendors from 2016 to 2019, when Correia was voted out of office following his indictment., 26 Apr. 2021 That process, which involves the businesses making payments to cities and towns, is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, and has long been derided by the industry as little more than a legal shakedown., 7 Apr. 2021 The team will be at IMS this week to observe the test with their chief mechanic and hopes to make an early-May shakedown-type run with driver RC Enerson in a month or so. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 6 Apr. 2021 His war in Yemen and the shakedown of about 200 allegedly corrupt princes and businessmen inside Riyadh's plush five-star Ritz Carlton hotel in November 2017 put his reputation under a cloud. Nic Robertson, CNN, 27 Feb. 2021 The corporate spending on campaigns resembles a shakedown, or a pay-to-play game, according to Douglas Melamed, a professor at Stanford Law School and former general counsel at Intel. John Detrixhe, Quartz, 15 Jan. 2021 As ambassador, Sondland undermined his State Department colleagues by serving as a back channel during Trump's attempted shakedown of the Ukrainian government. Mattathias Schwartz, Star Tribune, 27 Dec. 2020 Think of the Ukraine shakedown (over which Trump was impeached). Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 28 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Our voracious consumption of the former has inspired drug cartels to shake down growers in Mexico. Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2021 The superseding indictment also alleges Doherty, 65, participated in a scheme with his former boss, then-McCook Mayor and Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, to shake down a real estate developer doing business in McCook. Lisa Donovan,, 7 May 2021 Just days ago, Enerson and the team made their on-track debut at Worldwide Technology Raceway to help shake down the car and get it and up-to-speed for the much-larger oval at IMS. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 12 May 2021 Andrews was accused of assisting the alderman in attempting to shake down two businessmen seeking to renovate a Burger King restaurant in the 14th Ward. Jason Meisner,, 21 Apr. 2021 This was an epic bamboozle, where a crusading Big Green lawyer used courts in Ecuador to shake down Chevron for $18 billion. Jack Fowler, National Review, 15 Apr. 2021 Burke is facing public corruption charges for allegedly trying to shake down business owners seeking help at City Hall. Lisa Donovan,, 13 Nov. 2020 It’s the latest strain of ransomware built to shake down big-game targets for millions—with attacks that are couched in an uncanny air of professionalism. Brian Barrett, Wired, 26 Aug. 2020 Andrews was accused of assisting the alderman in attempting to shake down two businessmen seeking to renovate a Burger King restaurant in the 14th Ward. Jason Meisner,, 20 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shakedown.' 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 shakedown


circa 1730, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1859, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for shakedown

Time Traveler

The first known use of shakedown was circa 1730

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Statistics for shakedown

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shakedown.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for shakedown



English Language Learners Definition of shakedown

US : the act of taking something (such as money) from someone by using threats or deception
US : a thorough search of something
: a thorough test of a new ship, airplane, etc., in order to make sure there are no problems or defects

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